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Friday, June 25, 2021

Port Charlotte 16 year old 2003 for Feis Ile 2020

(Port Charlotte cluster homepage)

Islay's Feis Ile went virtual last year, but the festival's limited edition bottlings were just as prevalent in the primary and secondary markets as ever. For the drinky fest, Bruichladdich offered up 3000 bottles of a Port Charlotte constructed from three so-called "parcels":

First parcel: refill hogsheads recasked into 1st-fill bourbon barrels in 2012

Second parcel: 1st-fill bourbon barrels recasked into former Sauternes casks in 2013

Third parcel: a mix of sherry, bourbon and virgin oak casks (no further specifics)

This sounds like a post-Thanksgiving garbage plate, but the old Longrow CV demonstrated that a mishmash could actually taste good. So, what the hell, how about another 16 year old Port Charlotte?

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Brand: Port Charlotte
Ownership: Rémy Cointreau
Age: 16 years (2003 - 2020)
Maturation: see notes above
Outturn: 3,000 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 55.8%
(from a bottle split)


Bright notes fill the nose, but they're not fruity or herbal or anything spirity, but they're bright woody notes, like coconut cream and ginger. There are some new tires in the background, with mint and mossy peat (peaty moss) in the middle. Lots of white chocolate. After 20 minutes, the nose develops notes of menthol and white peaches. Once the whisky is reduced to 46%abv, it reads much closer to a southern Islay style of heavy peat smoke, but with vanilla, white chocolate and coconut cream intruding from every direction.

The palate is sweet and peppery, with a big dose of woody bitterness. Lots of oak spice as well. The smoke quickly turns bitter, overwhelming smaller notes of umami, lemons and dessert wine. The bitter smoke remains after the whisky is diluted to 46%abv. The lemons, now joined by limes, grow tarter and louder. Gradually some sweeter oranges appear.

The finish is full of vanilla pudding and bitter smoke. There's a touch of dessert wine again, but it's more of a late harvest sauvignon than a Sauternes. I hate myself. At 46%abv, the whisky finishes with bitter smoke, green bell peppers and balsamic vinegar.


This the oakiest Port Charlotte I've ever had. The casks are so loud that this comes across more like one of Ardbeg's harebrained limited editions than an actual Port Charlotte. I'm baffled by the whiskybase scores because the whisky's zany nose is the only thing keeping my score from heading to offending levels. Perhaps I didn't "get" this whisky, but I'm glad I didn't get this whisky.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - I dare not quote the secondary price because it could double by next year at this rate
Rating - 83