I was very lucky recently. Whiskybase.com’s shop in the Netherlands have their own independent bottling label called Archives and they’ve developed a reputation for being quite good. The problem is that their reputation is so good that these single cask bottlings they can get a little hard to get a hold of.
This one in particular had a good deal of hype as it is the oldest bottling of Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte peated whisky to date. So everyone was trying to get hold of this and it sold out in 50 minutes. I managed to get one. I usually ignore these hypey bottles but I heard from some trusted sources that it was fantastic.
Port Charlotte is a malt that’s gown on me quite a bit. I don’t really like the “lactic” note in Bruichladdich (although I’m slowly developing a bit of an affinity for it), but love it when it’s combined with peat. I was expecting the peat to be very mellow here given the age.
Aged 15 years. 62.2%ABV (!!). Matured in a refill bourbon barrel. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength from cask 276.
Nose: Farmy peat. So much peat. With water it dies down a bit and the true complexity reveals itself. Salty crackers. Butterscotch. Lemon Creme biscuits. Walnuts. Construction paper. Straw. Orange peel. Popcorn. Mineral salt. Carbolic soap.
Palate: Earthy peat. Wet leather. Old socks. Mud. Iodine, more than I usually find in a Port Charlotte. Slight woody funk (not sherry funk, think rotting wood on a damp forest floor). Caramel pudding. Creme Brulee. Ozone. Very peppery and spicy.
Finish: Long. Bitter citrus. Lemon Creme. Vanilla creme. Mint creme. Very creme-y in general. There’s also a lingering note of chilli with some slightly malty notes, like a malted milk almost and very small hint of anise.
Would I buy this: Yes
Would I order this in a bar: Yes
Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes
Phwoar! What a whisky! The peat was nowhere near mellow on this, it was downright brutal at first and even with the addition of water remains a peat monster of the highest order. The massive ABV here really delivered. I’ve tried several younger Port Charlottes that were more relaxed. With a little water and some time time it did open up beautifully though, letting out some incredibly creamy notes of all kinds as well as lovely wood influence and that beautiful mix of lactic Bruichladdich distillate with the unique style of peat. A really lovely work of complexity.