Bruichladdich just released Port Charlotte SC:01 2012, a 9 year old heavily peated whisky in their cask exploration series. The barley comes at 40 ppm phenols, malted with peat from Caithness instead of using peat from Islay.
The final whisky is a combination of three different parcels: 16 sherry butts as well as first and second fill American whiskey barrels. All of these were recasked into Sauternes casks (French oak) at some point, hence SC. Feel free to compare to last year’s Port Charlotte PAC:01 which it replaces.
The 2011 harvest was raised by seven of their farming partners, all within 10 miles of the distillery. For the first time in this series, the release contains 100% Islay grown barley.
Port Charlotte SC:01 2012 9yo (55,2%, OB 2022)
Nose: a lovely farmy nose, with earthy and muddy peat alongside hints of sheep stables. Behind this we find jammy peaches and melons, as well as some barbecued pineapple. Hints of black peppercorns, brown sugar and burnt heather. Sweet wine casks always work well with the rich peaty character of Port Charlotte in my opinion, even though it wipes out some of the coastal Islay elements.
Mouth: really sweet and thick, with ripe garden fruits coming together with slightly acrid smoke and deep char. Then burnt nuts, black pepper, leathery notes and sweet vanilla pastry. Apricots and Jaffa cakes. Hints of blackberries and honey as well.
Finish: very long. The sweetness gradually makes place for bitter chocolate, coastal salinity and earthy smoke.
The peat and sweet Sauternes play well together in this dram. Some may even find it a little too sweet and rich, but it grew on me and left quite an impression. In short: benchmark Port Charlotte. Available from Bruichladdich direct or retailers like Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange.