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So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley, 50%

Sometimes I wonder if I am overlooking something in Bruichladdich. It’s easy to do so when one talks about Islay and by the conversation it seems that there are only 3 or 4 distilleries there. Being unpeated on an island famous for peat has that effect. Not that the Bruichladdich distillery has not tried its hand at peat – they just call it other names like Port Charlotte and Octomore, so the ‘Bruichladdich’ name is used only for their virtually non-peated whisky. Also it is not to say that Bruichladdich does not have it’s own aficionados, it’s just that there are fewer of them resulting in a lower decibel level.

This is a distillery rescued from closure in 2001 after 5 years of closure at the hands of Whyte & Mackay. Times were changing and whisky was coming back into fashion. A consortium led by Mark Reynier of independent Murray MacDavid reopened those pale blue gates that’s just a road’s width from Loch Indaal.

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In those early years, there were a veritable deluge of various wine finished whiskies and mini-ranges. The first time I visited Bruichladdich, a series of bottlings spun around the story of a Ministry of Defence submarine washing up on Islay was on sale, appropriately called the WMD range. Then there were the Rocks, Valinch, Gold Courses mini-ranges etc.

IMG_0694 (The Loch is just to the right of this road.)

Then Remy Cointreau bought out the consortium shareholders for a pretty penny in 2012, and suddenly the Laddie Ten disappeared, indeed all age statements disappeared. The second time I visited in 2014 there were still wine finished aplenty though, but already the range had been reorganized with a terrior related theme.

And then I attended a Octomore tasting with Richard Gillam, Remy’s ambassador in Singapore, who insists that it was always Mark’s dream to release a NAS range, and that the Ten was just to raise cash in the interim . Richard also has much to say about Remy supporting local farms by buying local barley for its ‘intrinsic’ flavour profile (but not buying farms, apparently Bruichladdich only distills whisky and are not interested in raising cattle, which is what must be done between  harvests. Funny how Kilchoman bought over Rockside Farm then.) Anyway not to call you out on this one Richard, but I’ll believe it only when I hear it from Mark.

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So here we are with Port Charlotte ‘Scottish Barley’. Gone is the PC range (if you recall PC11 might have been the last) and here I was really hoping to see a Port Charlotte 10 years Cask Strength to challenge the might of the Kildalton. This carries neither an age statement nor is cask strength, so it’s all a pipe dream now, it’s hard not to feel disappointed with a third place. But let’s be objective now.

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Official Photo.

Nose  Nose: Heavy peat indeed. Very smoked, with smoked hams and burning pine wood. The peat here is clean, like newly dug black earth and roots. Also gently herby-coastal: matted dried leaves moist with spray. The Bruichladdich in this is there, but almost peripheral, stepping back only after the peat has had it’s say. Clean light aromatics of darjeeling, some honey and fresh clean fruit – reminded me of the new make (Yes thanks Richard for that).

Taste Palate: Smoke and ash, sharp and a touch salty. Let that pass and a green fruit fizzle follows, malt bins and an array of very natural grassy-honey tones. Yes it is close to the spirit and honestly slightly but not very maritime. On the whole rather light-bodied and I think that’s rather tell tale compared to the big three.

Finish Finish: Medium, surprise – soft fruit and smoky malt.

Score82

 

It may seem a little strange that a light spirit like Bruichladdich should be paired with heavy peat, but it does work well here, where the natural cleaness of the distillate complements a clean peat. But it should be taken on it’s own terms – don’t put it next to a sherried Laphroaig for peat’s sake.. the contender in that fight should really be .. dare I say it .. Ledaig.

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4 comments on “Port Charlotte Scottish Barley, 50%

  1. WhiskyMate
    September 22, 2015

    Small clarification here mate: PC 12 is the last of the range and was released as a travel retail exclusive sometime earlier in the year.

    Great review as always and I too am rather sad that the age statements have been phased out (although I would highly recommend the Scottish Barley expression!)

    Slainte!

    Brendan

  2. WhiskyMate
    September 22, 2015

    Small clarification here mate: The PC 12 is the last of the range and was released as a travel retail exclusive earlier in the year.

    Great review as always and I too am sad that the age statements have been phased out (although the Scottish Barley expression is brilliant).

    Slainte!

    Brendan

    • Whiskyrific
      September 22, 2015

      Quite right!! PC12 it is. Thanks! Yes, the best Port Charlottes have been the independent ones, especially Malts of Scotland. Highly recommended.

      • WhiskyMate
        September 23, 2015

        No worries mate! Ahh cheers, will definitely keep an eye out for those bottlings.

        Slainte!

        Brendan

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This entry was posted on September 21, 2015 by in Bruichladdich and tagged , .
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