Whisky Review: Port Charlotte Archives — PC8, PC12, Islay Barley, and Scottish Barley

Here I’ve got a few Port Charlotte bottles I gave a sip of in the past but never uploaded on Medium, except for OLC:01.

Port Charlotte An Turas Mor / 46% ABV / $60

tasted neat, w/bottled water

Finally! A scotch that labels as both E150 free and NCF!

An Turas Mor means “The Great Journey”, a whisky that Jim McEwan finally believes is good enough for the resurrected Port Charlotte distillery to showcase. Apparently, it’s a 2010 multi-vintage vatting peated to 40ppm (yum!) and aged in American Oak. No age statement.

  • Color: pale layers of rippling sandstone
  • Nose: rotting peaches and apples past their time, hay and summer sea spray. Rotting kelp.
  • Taste: honeysuckle-mustard barbeque glaze, peppered jerky, earthy peat
  • Finish: oaky warmth and sweetness, longer with a touch of water

I really like An Turas Mor! It’s peaty, floral, with the charred-cask BBQ characteristics we love in Ardbeg Alligator, but less in your face and balanced with perfect sweet notes. My only complaint might be that it’s only 46% — which is amazingly better than 43% or 40% — or that there’s no notes on what the vattings were that went into making it. It tastes like a young Kilchoman with the edges rounded off, and I hope Bruichladdich keeps making more of it. The only thing I can say about this eminently drinkable malt is that it’s not nearly as complex as its older, stronger cousins.

Rating: 87/100

Port Charlotte PC8 “Ar Duthchas” / 60.5% ABV

Tasted neat and with bottled water

Massive. Just look at that ABV! I like Cask Strength and I canna lie…

  • Color: Slightly darker than An Turas Mor, almost a bit reddish
  • Nose: cabernet wine, truffles, heavy vanilla
  • Taste: boom! peatshot; tramping through muddy shore, bits of dried fruit along the way, forlorn figs, to arrive at a beach bonfire
  • Finish: long and almost sherried; malty

This is the older brother, and 8 year old Port Charlotte Expression from Bruichladdich and it’s a great sign of what’s to come. It’s bottled at Cask Strength, a blistering ~61% ABV that is absolutely wonderful. You’re allowed to add some water to this one; it brings out heather in the nose, leather on the tongue. and more oak/smoke on the finish

I highly recommend this — and the other numbered PC releases, as they are great.

Rating: 94/100

Port Charlotte PC8 “Ar Duthchas” / 60.5% ABV / Second review

Tasted with a bit of filtered tap water

This is the fourth Port Charlotte regular release, a lovely eight year old bottled at cask strength. Like the previous, NCF, NC, matured in American Oak, and peated to 40 ppm.

  • Color: golden
  • Nose: alcohol, peat smoke, leather, pears
  • Taste: very thick, oily mouthfeel, huge burst of peat, strawberries
  • Finish: long, angel food cake and smores

This is, I think, the quintessential Port Charlotte bottling, and it’s fantastic — a real firecracker!

Rating: 91/100

Port Charlotte Islay Barley / 50% ABV

Tasted with a bit of filtered tap water

This is made from Islay local barley peated to 40PPM, non-chill-filtered or coloured. It’s a NAS, but they distilled it in Dec 2008 and released in 2015, so it’s not more than 6 years old.

  • Color: bottle blonde
  • Nose: machine shop, salty peat, smoked salmon, turpentine
  • Taste: very light, clean; some creamy peatiness, damp vegetation, vanilla
  • Finish: short and dry

I am not particularly impressed with this offering; although it’s OK it seems to lack the vivacity and mouthfeel you expect from Bruichladdich’s Port Charlottes.

Rating: 71/100

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte “Scottish Barley” Heavily Peated / 50% / $70

Tasted neat

This is one of the regular releases now from Bruichladdich, a heavily peated (40ppm) Port Charlotte bottled at high strength, using barley from Scotland, and water from the local loch.

Mood: sewing.

  • Color: swedish blonde
  • Nose: bananas, peat smoke, toluene, plastic, pineapple
  • Taste: pineapple crumble, big peat, oily campfire smoke, kippers
  • Finish: savory, creamy barbeque, glazed doughnuts

I like it, but there are a few weird off notes and a sense of a hot spirit that I didn’t get with the PCn releases. The flavour is here, though.

Rating: 81/100

Port Charlotte PC12 / 58.7%

Tasted with a bit of filtered tap water

This is the new 12 year old “standard range” which I am excited about, as it should mean cheap, plentiful Port Charlotte for all to enjoy!

  • Color: muddy, brown gold
  • Nose: light peat, alcohol, creme brulee
  • Taste: rough but smokey, sweet grapes, quite oaky, oily and thick, leather
  • Finish: long, with ice cream, burnt sugar, peat

I quite like it! Not quite as much as the PC8, which is my personal fav, but it’s nice and I will be buying more bottles :D

Rating: 90/100

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Elliott

Personal interests in literature, SF, and whisky/whiskey/scotch, Software Engineer by Trade