Photo via onbetterliving.com
When I previously purchased a bottle of Bruichladdich Classic Laddie, I was impressed how an Islay Region scotch (usually known for heavy peat and smoke) would have notes like floral, fruity and vanilla. So when I later saw that Bruichladdich also made a heavily peated Islay Single Malt, I knew I had to try it. If a distillery’s “unusual” malt could be amazing, then I was ready to be blown away by something in it’s wheelhouse. Then after reading Bruichladdich’s website, my excitement level has absolutely peaked. They described the Port Charlotte 10 as: “conceived, distilled, matured and bottled on Islay alone. We are a young team with deep-rooted values, and an ambition to make the ultimate “Islay” Islay whisky. A whisky made by people not software; a whisky watched over every day of its maturing life by those who made it; a whisky born of a community with a vision and a mission to kick start a single malt whisky revolution, this Port Charlotte 10 year old is who we are.” I absolutely love the enthusiasm of a team putting this much effort into their product. There is even a unique maturation as 65% of the whisky is aged in first fill American Oak casks, 10% is aged in 2nd fill American Oak casks, and 25% is aged in 2nd fill French Wine casks. All put back together you get this wonderful whisky.
Preparation: As with all scotches, the smell and first sip are “neat”; meaning no ice, water or any other mixer, just the whisky on its own. After that I added a little bit of water for subsequent sips, and finally to get the entire range of flavors, I added ice in the last few sips.
Smell: Like sticking your head in a fireplace, the smoky smell is both amazing and powerful. There’s a hint of sweetness behind the smoke though, with notes of vanilla and honey. It’s a very smooth smell, no harshness or strong alcohol sting to the nostrils at all.
Palate: Smoke is definitely front and center with the initial taste of this whisky. The honey and vanilla undertones are present in the flavor as well. Adding a little water opens it up nicely to experience not only the smoke and sweetness but a little citrus as well. I feel like adding an orange peel to make it look like an old fashioned.
Finish: Has a nice long finish that evolves the more you drink it. Sure it starts off with the smoke after the first sip. But the next couple sips leave some sweetness of the honey and vanilla. The next few you’ll start getting the citrus of orange and lemon. Later I even started getting hints of barley and oak to go with a more earthy smoke after taste.
With Ice: I would not suggest ice with this, but I will say that if smokiness is all you want (and sometimes I do), an ice cube or 2 will absolutely enhance the smoke, and diminish most of the undertones. One of the nights I had this was around a campfire on a 30-40 degree night, so while I didn’t put in any ice, the scotch cooled down just being outside. I also noticed the scotch lost a lot of the undertones, especially the citrus and you were mainly left with the smoky flavor.
Overall: My expectations were high, and they were met and possibly exceeded. I’m a sucker for a smoky scotch, (my go to is Lagavulin), so I was very excited to try a heavily peated scotch from one of the better Islay distilleries. If you’re the type of person who wants something great to go with a cigar or really enjoy the smell of a campfire or cozy fireplace in the winter, this is definitely a scotch you want to try. Sure the smokiness is front and center, but the experience continues to evolve as your palate gets accustomed to the strongest and boldest flavors and starts to notice the lighter undertones. This is definitely a bottle I want to keep on hand at all times.
Cask: American Whisky
& French Wine
Color: Old Gold
Age: 10 years