After trying the inaugural Port Charlotte 10 year old last year I stated that it was right among the best whiskies that Islay currently produces and was damn decent value. It really has proved to be a favourite of mine, I’ve spent many an evening in it’s company since and firmly stand by my original opinions.
Although I never got round to reviewing the first in the subsequent ‘Cask Exploration’ series, the Port Charlotte MRC:01, which was finished in French red wine casks. It was a solid example of a Port Charlotte with a detectable twist given by the wine cask finish. Still very much spirit led but wasn’t ‘finish heavy’ – just enough to give the Ileach a slight French accent. I’d suggest at nearly £100 it was a touch on the pricey side however.
It is still available but it’s replacement in the core range is already here.
The catchily named Port Charlotte OLC:01 has moved away from a red wine finish and is now sporting a finish in Oloroso hogsheads from the Fernando de Castilla bodega. From the information given it seems these are indeed ex-bodega casks rather than the much more common sherry treated bespoke casks used in the industry. Initially the spirit was filled into a combination of ex-bourbon, ex-syrah and ex-VDN (Vin doux naturel) casks for around 8 years before being vatted together and transferred to the aforementioned Oloroso casks. It is bottled at 55.1% at its natural colour, non chill filtered with a phenol level of 40 PPM (parts per million – a simple scale of how peated the barley they use is)
Port Charlotte OLC:01, (OB) 55.1%abv, (press sample) available here.
The nose is ashy and sooty with a delicious peaty tang. Hints of sea spray, quayside ropes and lobster creels, damp wood and old leather mix with handfuls of crushed roasted nuts, stem ginger and orange oil. There is a damp sort of earthy dunnage feeling and an aroma almost akin to burnt Jaffa cakes.
In the mouth it feels big and bold and deliciously oily. Full of drying spices interplaying nicely with the flavour mainstays – an ashy and coastal character. There are subtle sherry undertones with raisins, sultanas, touches of cedar wood and very distant dark fruits. There is a little sprinkle of chocolate too, not as sweet as salted caramel chocolate per se, but a fresh sea salt milk chocolate.
The finish has masses of charred oak and peat tang. There is a chunk of stem ginger and the coastal influences fade away to leave a drying minerality.
Another excellent release from Bruichladdich under the Port Charlotte label. I do wonder if these expressions continue to impress that perhaps in time they may begin to outshine their un-peated stablemate?
Authors note: At the time of writing the OLC:01 is currently sold out in many retailers but seems to be still available at The Whisky Shop. The whisky it replaces, the MRC:01 however is still available at all the usual retail outlets.
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You can find more of my tasting notes in the Amateur Drammers Archives.
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