Joined: 10 Apr 2012 Posts: 1401 Location: East Lothian
Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 9:15 pm Post subject: SMWS 127.21 Not for wusses (Port Charlotte)
SMWS 127.21 Not for wusses (Port Charlotte)
Whisky Region: Islay
Cask Type: Refill ex-bourbon barrel
Age: 9 years
Date Distilled: 21st June 2002
Outturn: 222 bottles (venue exclusive)
Bruichladdich distillery (meaning 'stony shore bank') was originally opened in 1881 by the Harvey brothers on the edge of Loch Indaal, Islay directly opposite Bowmore distillery. It was a purpose built facility, unlike other Islay operations that grew out of farm steadings. The Harveys mothballed the distillery in 1929 and sold it on in 1938, after which it changed hands many times, eventually being closed again in 1995 by Whyte & Mackay. The modern era of Bruichladdich began when a consortium under the name 'Bruichladdich Distillery Co. Ltd' and headed by Mark Reynier purchased the distillery in 2000. Jim McEwan, who had worked at Bowmore from the age of 15, was hired as production director. The restoration of the distillery was meticulous with much of the original Victorian equipment retained and the distillery operates today without the use of computers. A bottling facility was added in 2003 - prior to this water was actually freighted to the mainland in tankers to dilute the whisky to bottling strength.
Like some distilleries (e.g. Springbank), Bruichladdich has multiple expressions. The standard Bruichladdich is only lightly peated, the very first release contained only 2ppm of peat. The Port Charlotte expression, named after a defunct local distillery, is more heavily peated at 40ppm. The Octomore expression is named after a farm distillery, also long since gone but still the source of Bruichladdich's water. These releases are marketed as the peatiest in the world, containing upwards of 130ppm of peat, and are pitched to compete with Ardbeg (e.g. Supernova). Personally I regard the 'stooshie' around Octomore as a little over the top. However getting people to pay close to £100 for a five year old malt is a marketing coup whichever way you look at it! Finally until recently another brand, Lochindaal, a so-called '***' bottling was also available from Associated Scottish Distillers.
And so we come to the subject of this review, a Scotch Malt Whisky Society release of Port Charlotte. This is the third in a run of five ex-bourbon cask Port Charlottes that SMWS released between February and April, four of which were nine years old and the other eight. A couple of those casks went overseas but were available as drams at the venues. I tried casks 19, 20, 21 and 22 and bought bottles of the 19 and 21. I rate the 21 as the best, certainly the fiercest.
The liquid is pale yellow in colour, with a thin appearance to it. Tiny beads form on the sides of the glass when swirled though the legs are quite good for its age, suggesting good viscosity. The initial nose is prickly, with the young malt asserting itself and the high abv apparent. Primary notes of vanilla, oak and smoky peat subside slightly after a while to reveal lemon zest and a slight whiff of surgical spirit. The palate is initially like custard with honey and ginger, followed by an intensifying peaty burn that, at its peak, even begins to worry you a little, like a 'Daredevils' gobstopper (anyone remember them?). Some water is mandatory! The finish is quite abrupt but is dry and astringent with soot and ash prominent. This dram is a wee firecracker, immature but... fun. Comparing my notes I realised that I had used many of the same adjectives to describe the Longrow CV, however this is on steroids! If I were planning to drink this with other malts of an evening, even other Islays, I would probably leave it until last. _________________ "Whisky is liquid sunshine."
[George Bernard Shaw]
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