...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Assessing the Port Charlotte cluster at the halfway point

(Port Charlotte cluster homepage)

I'm enjoying this Port Charlotte cluster a lot more than the Kilchoman cluster. It's not just because the whiskies are better so far, but I like the once-a-week pacing. Though someone did suggest I speed up the Port Charlotte reviews, spacing out the tastings has kept me from getting burned out on these cask strength hammers. Sorry about that, Anonymous!

Port Charlotte single malt is not as "brutalist" as I'd remembered it to be. Only one of the whiskies has been "jagged and stark" (my words from the intro), specifically the PC5, understandably a bruiser at 63.5%abv and 5 years of age. Instead, there has been a variety of styles, with different mixes of fruits and nuts and complex phenolics appearing in each whisky. I'm quite smitten with a seaweed + miso note that keeps appearing, especially when it's countered by bright fruits.

The high quality of the PC series was no surprise, and I'm disappointed that Rémy Cointreau ended it. There would have been an audience for a PC or two made with the excellent Islay Barley malt, once the warehouses had enough stock. I don't mind enjoying the great Islay Barley vintages at their 50%abv release strength, but the "what ifs" won't go away.

Sadly, I cannot provide any consistency with my Port Charlotte + Wine Cask takes. Sometimes I want more cask variety, sometimes less. That's why I cannot be against all wine (or non-sherry fortified wine) cask releases. Sometimes, when a good blending team has the right casks and the right recipe, a balance is struck and a new complex whisky is born. Without those elements, the whisky results in one of those gruesome indie Murray McDavid single cask products.

Speaking of Murray McDavid (segue!), I'm hesitant to opine on who did Port Charlotte better: Mark Reynier's MMcD or Big Rémy. All of this cluster's whisky was distilled by Murray McDavid, while all but one of the non-PCs were bottled by Rémy, and all but one of the PCs were bottled by Murray McDavid. So there's a lot of crossover.

One thing has been consistent about these 13 whiskies; they were all official bottlings. It's time go older and off-road with the next 11 Port Charlottes. There will be indies, unique officials and a lot of teenage(!) single malt. I'm even opening up two of......hold on I'm getting the vapors......my bottles for the final week. 

<10yo Port Charlotte was great, will >10yo be even better?