Listen now children, because just a few scant years ago, you too could have found older Port Charlotte whiskies. Yes, that’s right, the now painfully hard to find whisky that’s arguably the most sought after at Bruichladdich (Botanist not considered, as it’s gin you silly Billy) was picked up and enjoyed by those of us who don’t spend all their time at auctions or flying to Islay.
Then the Fire Nation attacked, I guess. There has to be some reason. Oh, wait, it’s a nice whisky that’s peated and is only getting better with age (as opposed to Octomore IMHO). Thus the price went to the moon, because capitalism.
One of the many that you could buy for normal prices would be Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 12 2003 Duncan Taylor Dimensions, aged in… an oak cask? Okay, that’s the bare minimum, thanks Duncan. Alright, so it’s what we used to track down and say “this is the oldest Port Charlotte out there!” A few years later that’s still cool.
So does it still hold up? Was I just another whisky nerd getting too deep into the stats back in the day? Let’s see, shall we?
Cask type: Oak Cask
Cask number: 843
Number of bottles: 276
Colour: 2.5Y 6/8
Nose: Salmon jerky (no, I don’t mean a strong rough fish smell), spice cake, cream cheese icing, raisin
More like a brine flavour that you get from smoking or jerking fish (not like that you freak). This isn’t an off putting note. It’s distinct and salty and a bit smokey and has a meaty element to it. Are we all good now? No one is going to freak out because I said something about fish in the nose again?
Also some nice spice and a strong tart/sweet element, as well as some dry fruit. Quite nice.
Taste: Caramel, salt, spicy jerky, cinnamon toast, white raspberry The brine element is less tied into the meaty/spice aspect, but still there. This starts a bit simple but if you give it extra time (I typically let things open for 15 minutes, nose for 30, then try it, so there’s an idea of how much longer you need) it really opens into a tart, fruity and spice/cereal element.
Or add a bit of water and you get there quicker, but it’s whisky. What, are you renting your glencairns by the hour?
Finish: Crackers, cinnamon honey, coal dust, cherry, peach
More cereal, some earthy aspects that I used to think was coal, thought that was weird (as I worked on a coal ship), then found out that’s actually what people call it, and some spice/floral/sweet. Richness comes with water.
Conclusion: With water (or a lot of time), this whole thing becomes richer and much more interesting. There’s a lot of peat here, so if you’re not a peat fan, it may not be your favourite. If you like it, you’ll love it, like I did. It’s why we used to hunt down progressively older Port Charlotte.
Is it as complex as some of those? No, but someone had to get to the less great but still very good barrels, and DT did just that. If you find it, and you like sherry mixed with peat, and you have money (which can be exchanged for goods and services), you should grab this.
Scotch review #1569, Islay review #406, Whisky Network review #2293