Booze Review

Whisky Review – Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Scottish Barley

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Heavily Peated

Could that be the Peat Monster in the background? Or maybe it’s Nessie!

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:

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.

17 replies »

  1. Is it really Islay smokiness though? I looked into this with regards to Octomore a little while ago and my research suggested that Bruichladdich’s peated barley is mainland peated, not Islay peated. Your aroma notes then I would say are spot on.


    • Thanks for the technical info Patrick! The peat smoke on this one is closer to an Ardbeg or Kilchoman type of smoke, as opposed to something from Lagavulin or Laphroaig.


      • Ardbeg gets its peated barley from the Port Ellen maltings – as do Lagavulin and Laphroaig (partly – also have their own maltings, Islay based of course). Obviously peating levels, distillation, maturation, and certain other factors will influence, but the base smokiness in all of these should be the same, i would imagine. I’m not sure about Kilchoman….


  2. If you had to guess? Really, Alistair? Like the tasting notes aren’t always at your overly verbose fingertips. Nice review and what monster is that in the background? Given that the peat at 40ppm, I might be a little afraid. But my experience with the Laddie has been so good; I still think that I’d give it a try.


    • I’m thinking it’s a Peat Monster, though much like the Compass Box whisky of the same name, it’s not much of a monster at all.

      As far as trying it, I thought you did on the night I cracked it open. No?


  3. I have some dregs bottles that I can save for your peaty/smokey tests. Jura Prophecy, Talisker Storm, and Ledaig 10. I’ll save any of them that you want to try.


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