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Friday, January 11, 2019

Port Charlotte 10 year old, the new batch!

There will be a Port Charlotte Month or Half Month in 2019 or 2020, and by the time it's over you'll see I'm nothing but a Port Charlotte honk. In the meantime, I'll focus on my official winter bottle, Port Charlotte 10 year old 2007.

Rémy Cointreau has chosen bottle designs that separate Bruichladdich's peated and unpeated brands. Octomore has the tall textured vase, Bruichladdich still has its squat curvy bottle and Port Charlotte now resides in grenade casing.

This is the third batch of the 10 year old. Somehow I missed the first two. It still weighs in at 100 US proof, and has had its barley peated at a 40ppm. The official site says this now an official "permanent" release, replacing the Scottish Barley bottling. An age-stated whisky replacing an NAS? What the hell is going on around here?

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Brand: Port Charlotte
Ownership: Rémy Cointreau
Region: Islay
Age: minimum 10 years (2007-2018)
Maturation: 65% first fill Jack Daniel's casks, 10% second fill Jack Daniel's whisky casks, 25% second fill French wine casks
Barley source: Invernesshire, Scotland
Malted barley peat level: 40ppm
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(top half of my bottle)

It noses like a peat kiln in a candy shop. Cinnamon, confectioner's sugar, raspberry fruit leather, Juicy Fruit gum, fuji apples and a hint of vanilla. But there's also dense peat smoke and grilled shrimp. There ain't no sweets in the palate. It's all stones in a haze of dark peat smoke. Lots of salt, horseradish, bacon. The smoke picks up a slight bitterness with time and there's an undercurrent of lemon juice throughout. The finish is long, salty, peppery and peaty. Lemon, concrete and mild bitterness.

Just a few drops of water...

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or ½ tsp of water per 30mL
The nose picks up notes of cherries and mint leaves. Smoked meat. Cinnamon and brine. Mild cigar smoke. The peat gets more graceful on the palate, and is joined by white fruits and white peppercorns. It gets tangier and tarter with time. It finishes with peat smoke, salt, herbal bitterness and a little bit of sugar and cinnamon.

Where the casks used here may have altered another single malt's character significantly, Port Charlotte's spirit stomps the hell out of its confines. This beats everything Ardbeg has out, including its standard range. I feel like using nothing but violent verbs because this is a fierce thing. But it's not hot, monolithic nor palate-killing. It's dimensional (sorry), especially in the nose, and it swims very well.

It doesn't reach the heights of the full strength limited edition PCs, but it's sturdy and chiseled and feels like the antidote to a cold, wet night. If 'Laddie can maintain consistent quality with this 10yo year-to-year, it'll easily stand among the top 3 standard peated releases on the island.

Availability - Most speciality liquor retailers
Pricing - USA: $60-$75; Europe: $50-$65 w/o VAT, w/o shipping
Rating - 88


  1. Nice review! My local shop carries both this and Laphroaig cask strength for $65. Which would you pick up?

    1. Oh what a choice! Good prices too. Laphroaig cask strength is hell of a thing depending on the batch, but I haven't tried batch 9 or 10. 7 and 8 were very good. Laphroaig CS is a bigger, more overwhelming experience than Port Charlotte 10. It depends what you want. I don't think you can go wrong with either.

    2. I've tried the Laphroaig CS before so i think my next purchase will be the Port Charlotte. Thanks for the insights.

    3. Thanks Chris. Sounds like a good choice then. Been trying Port Charlotte 10 up against Longrow Peated and the PC has much more complexity to it.

  2. Well written review as always, you really nailed it, the nose has a fair bit of sweetness but it's thankfully free of it on the palate. Which delivers that big peated spirit. Great stuff I really hope they can keep delivering this level, I don't think it's getting the same kind of zeal that Octomore gets but that just leaves more for the rest of us.

    1. Thanks, Franck! Octomore fans (a group I used to belong to) can keep paying $150-$200 for their stuff. I'll take Port Charlotte instead.

  3. One thing that slightly worried me was the inclusion of wine casks in this version. I really enjoyed the NAS Port Charlotte Islay Barley because the ex-bourbon casks didn't cover up the spirit character. So I'm a bit relieved that this is not overly sweet or wine-y.

    1. I really enjoyed the previous Islay Barley too. I'm tempted to get the new version of that, which is 25% 2nd fill wine casks too. But after this experience, I'm pretty confident the spirit is too muscular to let any winey stuff intrude.