Two weeks ago, I went for a quick booze run to WineWorks in Marlton, NJ since I needed to pick up a replacement bottle of High West Double Rye, as well as something new for a casual whisky tasting that Limpd was hosting at The Barthenon. After a bit of debate, I narrowed it down to two choices: the whisky in the above photo or a Connemara Cask Strength. They both had the following in common:
- Both were peated and priced at around $65.
- Both came in an attractive tin with a similarly shaped bottle.
- Both were given favorable reviews on the Whisky Advocate website, with the Bruichladdich Port Charlotte scoring an 88 while the Connemara scored an 85.
In the end, I wound up buying the Bruichladdich Port Charlotte because (a) I’d never had it before, and (b) my youngest son who accompanied me on this quickie booze run liked the colors on the tin and called “Dibs!” on it, i.e. he wants the empty tin when I’m done with it so that he can add it to his “treasure chest” collection.
The moral of the story: pretty packaging may catch your eye and lead to a whisky purchase, but ultimately, it’s what’s inside the bottle that really counts. And that’s what we’re here to find out…
But before we get to my review, below are a few words about this whisky taken directly from the Bruichladdich website:
Peated to a heavyweight 40Ppm, Port Charlotte Scottish Barley is a cuvee crafted from casks hand-picked by Master Distiller Jim Mcewan. It showcases the supreme elegance of this remarkable single malt – a union of the classic floral elegance of Bruichladdich and heavy peat.
This whisky is testament to our belief that raw ingredients matter. Trickle distilled from 100% Scottish Barley the spirit gently matures in the lochside village of Port Charlotte before being bottled here at the distillery using Islay spring water.
And here’s my take…
- Appearance: Pale gold with a slight amber tint.
- Aroma: A healthy dose of peat smoke when you first stick your nose in the glass, though not of the usual Islay variety. Instead of maritime and medicinal notes, I’m getting smoldering coal mixed with black licorice and eucalyptus. Once I work past the smoky herbalness of it all, some fruity sweetness come through which I can’t quite put my finger on, but if I had to take a guess, I’d go with ripe pear, honey, and a dollop of vanilla.
- Taste: Medium bodied with just a touch of oiliness. The smoky herbalness is front and center with a sharp white pepper heat making an appearance as you approach mid-palate. The pepperiness intensifies and then the fruit finally shows up at the finish where it intermingles with the other elements. Licorice, white pepper, and some smoke linger for about a minute in the aftertaste.
- ABV: 50%
As the designated peat lover of the crew, I am pleased to report that the Port Charlotte Scottish Barley definitely delivers a healthy dose of Islay smokiness. I like the intensity, and I really like the variety of aromas and flavors that this whisky brings to the table. Definitely worth trying, and when you consider it’s healthy bottling strength, and the fact that it costs around $65, I’d say that it’s a pretty good value.