After many limited releases, we finally have a permanent age-statement expression of Port Charlotte, with a satisfying number of years under its belt. Distilled from Scottish-grown barley, it is matured predominantly in first-fill American oak casks, along with second-fill American and second-fill French wine casks. It is peated to 40ppm, in line with other Islay heavy-hitters, but the peat is never a blunt instrument, retaining sufficient restraint to allow other characteristics—maritime notes, the sweetness of caramel, coconut, and orchard fruits—to shine through. Number 4 in the 2018 Top 20
Distilled from Scottish barley, this is the first permanent age-statement Port Charlotte bottling. First and second-fill American oak and French wine casks were used for aging. Rock pools, lemon juice, caramel, but little overt peat on the nose. The palate boasts big orchard fruit notes, smoky coconut, and brine. Again, the peat is quite muted. Long and spicy in the drying, peaty finish.
A single cask from the distillery’s peated “Port Charlotte” line of whiskies. Well behaved for such youth. Nice honeyed malt and soft caramel base with good viscosity as a bed for tarry peat, licorice stick, freshly-ground pepper, and cocoa, along with a kiss of sauternes, delicate pit fruit, smoked seaweed, and a lingering coastal accent. Long, warming finish. (Park Avenue Liquor exclusive)
This was matured in first-fill sherry, bourbon, French wine, and tempranillo casks. Initial brine on the nose gives way to malt and orchard fruits, sweet smoke, and buttery malt. Sweet, medicinal smoke notes on the early palate, then toffee and peaches drying to aniseed and chili. Long and prickly in the finish, with licorice and black pepper. A complex rendering of Port Charlotte.
Distilled in 2002, here’s Port Charlotte with an assured maturity. Amber in color, with some smoke and a pleasing whiff of cowshed (sweet hay and cow’s breath), before rosehip syrup and ozonic freshness. Water brings out incense, cream, even a little nuttiness. The palate is gently complex; a drop of water is needed to calm the heat and reveal the smoke that interweaves between the layers. It retains its fresh acidic finish, with nutmeg, soft lemon, and pear. Excellent. £110
This includes whisky distilled from barley grown on three Islay farms. It was mainly matured in first-fill American oak, along with Syrah and merlot wine casks. Fragrant peat, warm tar, ginger, vanilla, and sea salt on the nose. Peaches dipped in salt on the palate, with milk chocolate and more vanilla, then dark berries. The peat is spicy and quite acrid in the long, briny finish.
Aged in a combination of sherry and bourbon oak. Bold and fresh, bursting with testosterone. Notes of damp kiln smoke, tar, wet sheep, roasted chestnuts, and pine forest bedding, along with more subtle pear, espresso, anise, and brine. Sweet notes of vanilla, fig cake, and maple syrup serve up balance and complexity. Appetizing brine and tar finish. It’s more mature than last year’s PC6. Earthier and less fruity, too! Plus, I feel that the sherry notes in PC7 integrate better than the Madeira notes from PC6. But my favorite is still the original PC5 for its purity, balance, maturity (for its age), and pristine character. (I lined up all three yesterday and tasted them side-by-side.)
Distilled from Scottish barley in 2010, this was matured in first-fill bourbon casks and second-fill French wine casks before finishing in Bordeaux French oak. Fruity peat, salty vanilla, heather, toffee, and malt on the nose. Peaches and pineapple wrapped in peat, with marshmallows and rock salt on the supple palate. A whiff of iodine in the finish, with berries, cloves, licorice, and spicy oak.
Smoky, yes, but the effect is more shore-like: on the beach, hot sand, wood smoke, and a faint hint of balloons…there must be a party going on. In addition you get olive oil, preserved lemon, and eucalyptus. The palate is thick with strawberry sweeties that push back against the peat. Water calms things (suggesting this would work with soda), while the finish sees the campfire emit more smoke. £45
An immediate and perhaps surprising smokiness which brings to mind cask-aged mezcal (tepeztate to be precise), and it is this green, celery-accented element playing off some oily, nutty, and farmyard notes that gives balance and intrigue. Water reveals its youth, but there’s enough cask action to add some weight to the palate, where the natural sweet spirit shows itself. Keenly priced. Worth a look next time you are flying. (Travel Retail exclusive) £68