Thanks to /u/throwboats for both of these samples.
It is said that every person, no matter how minor or prolific in what they do for fun, will miss something. There will be a racing nerd who has never seen the Montreal Indy; a D&D nerd who never fought frost giants; a computer gaming nerd who has no idea why the fuck anyone talks about cake; and a whisky nerd who misses a large segment of Bruichladdich.
I’m not just talking about a 6 part series that they brought out in 2002 that included 18 year old whiskies that were sternly looked at by a sommelier who was drinking cranberry juice while riding an oxen. No, I’m speaking of Port Charlotte.
So I decided that, when I had a chance, I’d review a bunch of the Port Charlotte in batches that made sense.
Port Charlotte is the lineup from Bruichladdich that is peated to 40ppm, as opposed to their standard, which has no peat or very little, or Octomore, in which they harvest so much peat for the barley that they come out the other side of the planet and end up in the ocean just south of New Zealand.
So let’s start out easy. While Port Charlotte started with the PC line (as opposed to the Apple line), most people raved about PC10. And I believe someone noticed at Bruichladdich, as such they ended up bringing out a standard 10 year version. Much like other whiskies that have come out, when they ran out of the first 10, they brought out a different strength, different tasting second edition.
For those of you who don’t know, this happens normally everywhere, however most companies use barrel blending to ensure each release tastes very similar or exactly the same. However Bruichladdich feels they are missing the chance to bring out more versions. And if there’s something that Bruichladdich loves, it’s more versions.
So let’s see the difference between the Original and the 2nd edition, shall we?
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 First Edition
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 7.5YR 7/2
Nose: Rich caramel, peat, pear, brine, pineapple funk, cereal
Nice amount of caramel on the nose. It eventually goes to a sweeter, pineapple like funk. Stronger nose than the abv. would normally have.
Has the pear notes of standard Bruichladdich to tie it back in, which is nice. Quite briney too.
Taste: Peat, cumin, caramel, algae, cinnamon
Less rich than the nose. No more fruit, more earthy and spicy now. Missing the fruit from the nose.
That said, it’s Autumn, which means my were-skinny-white girl comes out. I start collecting leaves, go on Pinterest, and break my phone. All while living in Starbucks and complaining about Tanya with a Y’s new hair colour.
You know, the norm.
Finish: Peat, lemon peel, yeast, cinnamon, cereal
Long finish. Very long. And there’s some acidity here that was missing in the taste, balances out a lot of the flavours nicely.
The yeast is an interesting addition, as I always say while going down on someone. Adds a dimension here. Unlike with Tania with an I.
Conclusion: Nice spice filled dram that punches above it’s alcohol proof. The nose is the most complex part, with an interesting pineapple funk note that reminds me of Springbank.
The taste is missing something though. A fruit element. It’s not as funky, missing that acidity, and overall, while nice in Autumn, needs more time. Finally the finish is long, interesting, and tasty.
Is this going to beat out the other powerhouses of Islay? Not yet. However it’s on it’s way.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Second Edition
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Colour: 5Y 8/10
Nose: Light peat, pear juice, brine, ginger syrup, lemon
Hmm. Oddly enough we have a stronger abv, which I’m all for. Personally this is my target alcohol content. Cause I’m all about strong things in my mouth (get it, because dick jokes).
It’s a lighter peat on the nose this time. I read that all Port Charlotte is 40ppm, so perhaps this just missed the memo. Nice ginger and lemon notes, and there’s no loss of fruit this time.
Taste: Lemon pop rocks, caramel, cumin
It’s spritey, spicy, and has some caramel. And that’s about it. The lemon is there, so there’s an improvement, however I’m not seeing much here. I enjoy sipping it, however again the flavour is light.
Kudos to them for adding to acidity. Non kudos for removing the spices.
Finish: Buttered popcorn, ginger, oak, pepper
Interesting butter and popcorn flavour. And we have spice again, some oak.
It’s not lasting as long as the last one. It becomes more complex at the end, works with some of the earth.
Conclusion: I’d say this about this version: There’s proof that they saw the issues with the last one and tried to make something different. The amount of fruit is there.
However, which is a nice way of saying ass, there’s missing elements here. If you didn’t tell me it was peated, I wouldn’t know. The finish wasn’t as nice, and I get some nice flavours, however I feel like they had this at 50% because it couldn’t take 46%. Water did very little here, save for make it disappear.
I enjoyed sipping on it, however I’m hoping the third edition brings it back to what it was before.
Scotch reviews #726-727, Islay reviews #163-164, Whisky Network review #1200-1201