...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Three Port Charlotte casks from Malts of Scotland

(Port Charlotte cluster homepage)

Whew. I'm back. I don't recommend moving. I've done it twenty-two times, so just take my word for it.

I'm returning to the Port Charlotte cluster today, as I type up this recap of a tasting I did before the Rosebank tasting at the old house. We're now fully into indie territory with a trio of single casks issued by the German bottler, Malts of Scotland. MoS has released 20+ Port Charlotte casks from the 2001-2004 vintages, with most of them enjoying cask comfort for a decade or more before dumping. Here are three examples:

Port Charlotte 10 year old 2001 Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead #12039, 63.3%abv

The giant enormous thunderous big nose offers note after note after note. Plum skins, walnuts, very dark chocolate, dunnage, barley(!), Benedictine liqueur, milk chocolate, toffee and ocean water meet, merge, swirl, separate and then meet again. The whisky seems to find my attempt to reduce it to 50%abv comical, as it changes directions but doesn't calm down, spilling Underberg, orange peels, raspberry jam and butterscotch into a leaf fire. And still, the dunnage note persists.

The hot but navigable palate issues forth dark smoke, dunnage, industrial grease. The barn's on fire, again. This may be the tarriest whisky I've ever tasted. It's still a WOW at 50%abv, keeping most of the same notes, especially the dunnage, industry and tar. It's gained oranges and an herbal bitterness.

The extensive finish is herbal, earthy, tarry, farmy and bitter. After the whisky is diluted to 50%abv the finish doesn't change much, other than taking on more citrus and dunnage.

Bigger and better than any of the Octomores I've tried, this fabulous whisky has a power, complexity and unique style that triggers my old feelings about the early Corryvreckans. You may enjoy this whisky with water, without water, with me, without me. Whatever. Congrats to you lucky stinkers who got your hands on this lovely stinker eight years ago.


Port Charlotte 11 year old 2001 Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead #13052, 58.2%abv

This is a much different creature than the 10yo 2001. The nose is calmer, focused more on nuts, iodine and smoked fish. Some earth and stones in there as well. Hints of tahini and copper. A peach skin note develops over time. Reducing the whisky to 50%abv brings out more toasted nuts (pecans and almonds), and a hint of cannabis. Less fish, more dried herbs. Hints of brine and barley.

Walnuts, raw pecans, chickpeas, gravel and hay on the palate. It gets nuttier with time, while also taking on bitter herbs, salt and kiln. Dropping the abv to 50% gives it a good balance of bitter, sweet and salt, with a mix of chiles, nuts and mellow smoke in the background.

Early sips result in a finish full of kiln, hay and menthol. Bitter herbs and salted almonds appear in later sips. It takes on more citrus, bitterness and smoke once the whisky is reduced to 50%abv.

Perhaps suffering in the matchup, this whisky is a wee kitten compared to the 10yo 2001. It does have a solid nutty sherry side to it, and a good balance. There's something very Islay about the nose, which is never a bad thing, and the palate has some fight to it. It's a very good early winter pour, though Serge thinks more highly of it than I do.


Port Charlotte 13 year old 2002 Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel #15011, 55.4%abv

The nose begins with a mix of cold kiln and mossy smoke, then toasted barley and a hint of eau de vie. Mint leaves, cucumber skins and cotton candy fill out the background. After 20 minutes, the drinker is greeted by cow patties (freshly issued!). Once the whisky is diluted to 50%abv, the nose is all ocean and farm, with orange peel in the background.

The spirit-driven palate offers graceful peat, dried herbs, dried flowers and grapefruits. There's bitter chocolate, soot, metal and lemons in the midground, a subtle sweetness in the background. Reducing the abv to 50% brings out a lot more fresh stone and orchard fruits, keeping only bitter chocolate and peat moss in the midground.

It finishes with soot, kiln, serrano pepper, lemons and a creamy sweetness. At 50%abv, there's mossy, leafy smoke. Then limes and cannabis (hello again).

Though the oldest of the three, this whisky reads the youngest, perhaps due to a quieter cask. Though it's more complex when neat, I prefer its simplicity and focus at 50%abv. I like it quite a bit, but again it's in some tough company today. Ruben was more hot to trot for this one than I was.


It was fun, and a little exhausting, to try three different Port Charlotte styles from one bottler. The 10yo 2001 is right up with the PC7 as my favorite pours from this cluster so far. I'm going to review some softer whiskies (I can hear you booing from here) before returning to older Port Charlottes next week. Stay tuned!