As I stare onto a blank page, the white burning my sleep deprived eyes and my liver cursing me over and over again, I am reminded that I’m not young anymore.
Then I realize that I was never “young”, in that way. Age, for me, didn’t affect how well I could drink all night and bounce back the next day. I always needed my sleep. Turns out being on a party bus for four hours and drinking for eight makes for slow brain thinking. However that’s a concern for my fellow PUBG players, not you.
It does tie into the whiskies we’re reviewing today: The Bruichladdich Port Charlotte series is one that we’ve seen bouncing around for awhile now. Bruichladdich entered into a new area with this series all those years ago: They went from the non-peated or lightly peated whiskies they typically make and decided to join the peat train.
Peated to 40ppm, the PC line are specific whiskies about change, with each year being a limited run of cask strengths whiskies at different ages.
Thus I differed at different ages, however for different reasons, and I wasn’t kept in a cask the whole time.
So let’s see how this changes from casks to casks, age to age, Gaelic name that none of us remember to Gaelic name none of us can pronounce.
Thanks to /u/Throzen for this sample.
Up first we have Bruichladdich Port Charlotte PC12 Oileanach Furachail. I’m trying to change things up with this multiple review, so I went in backwards order. Or maybe I was drunk when I chose this one. I’ll let you decide.
“Oileanach furachail” means “Vigilant Student” in Gaelic, and was named after Adam Hannett, who worked alongside Jim McEwan from 2006 until he retired. Adam has now taken over as the Master Distiller, causing a stir with comments about ignoring Jim’s final recipe for Black Arts.
While I may not agree with Mr. Hannett’s verbage, I still am interested in his ability to make whisky, as it turns out I’m not into whisky to hear master distiller’s spin a yarn, I’m here for the booze. So let’s see what his influence was on this range, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Age: 12 years
Colour: 10YR 8/10
Nose: Coal dust, leather, stewed pear, brine, butterscotch royal icing, orange floor wax
Interesting nose on this one. It’s stated that Adam’s abilities to analyze whisky rest upon his nose. No, he doesn’t have a big nose and a beautiful wife, he (supposedly) has a perceptive nose.
There’s some interesting notes here. Nice amount of burn and earth, good leather notes, and a creamy, almost tart sweetness. I definitely took my time on this one.
Taste: Tiger tail ice cream, lemon-lime soda, cinnamon grilled pineapple, butterscotch
Creaminess continues on in the taste. Lots of citrus and fruit notes, nice cinnamon elements as well. There’s quite a rich flavour to it that develops with time/water. It’s not as complex as the nose, however has some interesting combinations.
Finish: Anise, caramel, brine, cedar smoke, smokey-citrus, tobacco/coca
Weak finish. The letdown of the dram, personally. It continues with some of the similar flavours, giving us more burnt wood now and earth in a tobacco/cocoa way (apologies for not giving more on the tobacco), however it’s so light it’s hard to pick things out.
Conclusion: Much like how, as a teen, I dated poorly however did well in school and was active in Drama, this dram has 2 great parts and one tremendous failing. Granted it probably didn’t lose it’s virginity to a crazy bitch, so let’s call it even.
I can see why they bottled this as is. The nose is very unique and complex. The taste has elements that harken to other Bruichladdich however mix them in different ways. And then it shits the bed. But enough about me losing my virginity.
I enjoyed this, however if you’re into a long, complex aftertaste, it’s a pass. Otherwise it’s a high quality dram, and I’m interested in what else this student brings to the table now that he’s the master.
Thanks to /u/cake_my_day for this sample.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte PC11 Eòrna Na h-Alba is the seventh release, and the second one I tried.
“Eòrna Na h-Alba” means “Scottish Barley”, an homage to the grain that gives it flavour and the people who work on Scotch. It also means that if you’re a Gaelic speaker you can throw off most bartenders by ordering it.
As well, these casks were finished in sherry casks after the fact. I didn’t actually know that before going in, however please note I prefer my sherry to be PX typically, so I have a bias against it. Well that and the fact that this is harder to find then a virgin on an island with a volcano.
So let’s see how one less year and a sherry bath does to the peated spirit, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Type: Premium Ex-Bourbon, then finished with Oloroso Sherry
Age: 11 years
Colour: 7.5YR 6/8
Nose: Pepper beef, salty grapefruit, Teriyaki sauce, caramel, bacon
Nice peppery, meat flavour to this. Umami notes throughout, goes from complex to simple from moment to moment.
Takes some time to open up, and the Island air has influenced the nose with some salt there. It works as a whole, just takes some time/water for the caramel to come out and balance the salt.
Taste: Orange, caramelized orange, brown sugar, pear brandy (see below)
First notes are all orange, however that takes a step back like a fat guy dancing (after a few minutes). Nice amount of brown sugar that goes to a brandy like complexity.
Yes, I know that pear brandy has more flavours. It’s not an easy note to add here. It’s brown sugar, lots of pear, and some sprity, youthful, and oaky notes underneath it. It’s not overly complex after time and water, with the pear being more prominent and the alcohol flavour being there more and more.
Finish: Molasses, cumin, iodine, grapefruit juice, edamame, cocoa nibs
Nice finish this time. Where as the above had a weaker flavour, you have the citrus, earth, and umami notes coming back, not to mention the strong brown sugar/molasses from the taste mixing nicely as well.
Conclusion: When I was fresh out of university, I knew I knew nothing. However I felt I knew myself. And I was super wrong, it turns out. Luckily I married someone great.
This reminds me of that time in my life. The nose is inviting with interesting umami notes, however the taste grows slowly and is unbalanced. Frankly not that interesting.
That said, the finish takes all the elements and you can see what they were going for. It’s missing that final beat, that big hoorah note on this one. It’s a cast of side characters written for women by executives who don’t think anyone wants to hear a woman speak. There’s quality here, just not enough for me to want it again.
Thanks to /u/devoz for this sample.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte PC10 Tro Na Linntean is the final PC of the series for me today. One could assume that Bruichladdich’s eventual release of not one, but two 10 year Port Charlotte’s would mean this is the best, however luckily I didn’t think too much about that.
“Tro Na Linntean” means Through the Generations, and is a tip of the hat to Allan Logan, the youngest distillery manage in Scotland. He worked alongside Jim McEwan for 10 years at the time of this release, and as such, this is like his child. No, I’m not inferring he did anything untoward to the casks.
This is also the first big milestone for Port Charlotte, as it’s the first double digits they hit. So let’s see how 1 less year and a lack of a finish did here, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Type: American Oak Casks
Age: 10 years
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Sea air, BBQ, passionfruit, violets, saltwater taffy, fresh cut wood
More in line with what you expect from peated Islay: Salt influences a lot of the nose, the flavours pair well with it, and there’s a smokiness to it that has built up.
However in typical Bruichladdich (and infomercial’s) tradition, there’s more! A fruit/floral element that reminds me of the colour purple, some nice molasses, brown sugar BBQ elements, and even a fresh cut wood note that I typically only find from ex-Virgin cask barrel influenced drams.
Taste: Turnip cobbler, caramel apple, cinnamon cream, espresso
So you take turnip, you mix in butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar, then add on a cobbler top, and you pretend it’s still a vegetable dish. Sometimes you add apples too because denial is real. That’s turnip cobbler. It’s interesting.
More cinnamon notes, however with creaminess, and a constant earthiness seeps out on this one. You need to give this a few sips to really get it. Takes a lot of time to appreciate, and not because it needs water or time. It’s just layered that way.
Finish: Brine, apple tart, creme caramel, coffee cake, chocolate wafer, basil
And a nice finish, however with a brine note that isn’t well developed and sticks out like a straight guy dancing at a mosque during prayer time.
Nice earth developed notes.
Conclusion: This is the best of the bunch, as it’s more balanced, misses those glaring errors of the above, and overall the only miss is a much too high brine note at the end which is hard to get around. The nose challenges the PC12, the finish has the complexity of the PC11, and the taste is the best of the bunch.
If you are a fan of bitter earth notes balanced with sweet caramel and apple elements, then this is a no brainer. Heck, I’d say try it even if that’s not your jam. This is a well made dram, and I completely agree with them releasing 10 year after the great quality of this one.
Scotch review #717-719, Islay review #159-161, Whisky Network reviews #1183-1185