Thanks to /u/lol_oilers for sharing this dram
If you’re ever lucky enough to visit Islay and make your way to Bruichladdich, then you’ll come across a group of distillery exclusive Valinch bottlings. Some of them will be named after the hard workers, some will by given Gaelic names that most of us will butcher, and all will be pricey. Usually for a good reason.
I’ve never been to Islay, however, I have been lucky enough to try some of their exclusives.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Valinch – Cask Exploration 19 Cuan Dorcha is one such whisky, which if you were at the distillery in the first quarter of 2018, you too could have purchased.
Now I understand that most of you will have to eat beans and rice for a month to get this at auction. So think of this review as a continuation of me trying to decide if the distillery bottlings are worth the premium for 500ml.
Oh, and let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: Sold out
Stated age: 12-years-old
Cask type: Hermitage Blanc
Cask Number: 1571
Number of bottles: 438
Colour: 7.5Y 7/8
Nose: Rich grape jus, caramel donut, smokey BBQ, nectarine syrup
So the nose is quite unique. Think rich notes, caramels that are really strong, some yeast, and strong smokey/molasses notes.
Really the only sad part is water brings out the strong, but typical stone fruit/sweetness. Why not something else crazy, like a floral note? Suffice to say, it’s very unique, and hard to explain. Strong nose too.
Taste: Manure, brown Betty, tangerine, papaya, white peach, brine, banana
Ok, I get it. No one likes to taste manure. Wait, broke my first rule of reviewing whisky: No kink-shaming. Not many people like to taste manure. However a farmy note can show up, and for those of us who visited rural areas, it can be something almost nostalgic. Suffice to say, it’s there, and right up front. Ballsy.
Less wacky and complex than the nose. More fruit to it, tropical, stone, and quite sweet. I’m missing some of the complexity here, though still going back for more.
Finish: Grape, molasses, brine, orange muffin, walnut, kippery, tar, smoke, red liquorice
The finish starts with bits of more of the fruit, and you get an idea that it may, just a little bit, get to that amazing complexity of the nose.
However, it never quite gets there. The youth and the fact this is Port Charlotte becomes evident. As a peat head, I’m not sad. But if you’re not, it may be a tease.
Conclusion: You’ll have few, very few whiskies that will hit this level of complexity, at any stage, after 12 years. This is quite unique and interesting.
That said, and while I wouldn’t be sad to have bought this whisky… well, I feel this was pulled too quickly. Yeah, the nose is crazy unique. Yeah, the taste is pretty far ahead of it’s age.
However having had older Port Charlottes, I wonder if the finish, taste, and even the nose would have been even better given maybe 2 more years, at minimum.
Suffice to say, take the tour, try some drams, and consider one of the Valinches, because if this is one of the “lower” ones, then you’ll be pretty happy.
Scotch reviews #1124, Islay review #300, Whisky review #1745