Review: Port Charlotte 10

The Port Charlotte distillery had existed for a hundred years (though during this period the distillery was renamed Lochindaal) when it closed back in 1929. From that point on, Port Charlotte disappeared from the world of Scotch Whisky until the brand was revived by Bruichladdich back in 2001.

Bruichladdich uses the Port Charlotte brand for their heavily peated malt, though they also produce the famed Octomore series at their distillery. Where Octomore offers even higher levels of peat, this port Charlotte 10 is no slouch either at 40 ppm.

Nowadays Port Charlotte brings several different bottlings to the table, including Islay Barley’s and Cask Explorations series. This 10 is the entry level malt and it’s fast becoming one of the more popular offerings from the isle of Islay. And there’s a good reason for that. This dram comes to you un-chillfiltered, with natural colour, and a hefty 50% ABV. Under the bonnet it has everything it needs, and with a distillery like Bruichladdich behind it you know you’ll be tasting a little piece of art.

Tasting Notes: Port Charlotte 10 Heavily Peated
Stats:

ABV: 50% (100 proof)

Age: 10 years old

Distillery: Bruichladdich Distillery

Owned by: Rémy Cointreau

Category: Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Awards: San Francisco World Spirits Competition Double Gold (2022)

Chill-Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Setting:

The weather here in The Netherlands is horrible today. Even my dogs stayed in the doorway, looked at the torrents of rain, and decided they’d rather stay inside today. It’s warm and cozy enough inside though, and the weather did make me yearn for a nice bit of peat. So, I pulled the Port Charlotte 10 from the shelve and poured myself a glass neat into my trusty old Glencairn.

Nose:

Every time I pour myself a dram of this Port Charlotte 10, I find myself surprised at just how little peat I find on the nose. Don’t get me wrong, the peat is there. But it’s more subtle than the bottle would lead you to believe. It might very well be heavily peated, but what you find in your glass is rather delicate. The first thing I notice is that there is a fair amount of citrus on the nose, especially lime and orange zest come to mind. Behind that I’m finding a chocolate brownie quality, and some notes of bacon that pair beautifully. In fact, it reminds me very much of the brownies they serve at the Malt Vault in Utrecht, with little chips of bacon in them. And it’s delicious!

I am also getting some salted caramel fudge. And all these flavours combined almost makes you forget about the peat that is in this dram. But it is there throughout all these notes, covering everything in a warm and loving blanket knitted from whisps of peat smoke. Water makes the peat much more apparent on the nose though, and it also brings forth a more herbal note. I can’t pinpoint which herb exactly, but it gives of a scent of a high-quality BBQ rub.

Palate:

On the palate the peat is much more prominent. A torrent of salty sea air, smouldering logs from a peat fire, and the ashes from a cigar attack your palate from the get-go. It orders me to take a step back and approach with caution, as otherwise I will be swept away by the bolder flavours of this dram. And that would be a shame, as it holds so much more depth than just those first rugged layers. There’s salted caramel in here as well, and freshly made cookie dough. There’s even a little hint of passion fruit hiding behind it all.

Think of this dram as a storm, where you need to find the eye to detect all its more delicate flavours. Water makes this a fair bit easier. Even though it made the nose a lot peatier, it dims the peat on the palate. Which suddenly makes me detect a thick and luscious honey in this dram as well. And some meat too. Honey glazed hams to be precise.

Finish:

The finish is long and ashy, like I’ve just finished a night of chain-smoking heavy cigars. But some of the meatier qualities from the nose reappear here as well. But instead of bacon it’s peppered steak that I’m finding here. It loses most of its citrus influences, but what lingers is just ever so pleasant. The smouldering remnants of a winter barbeque come to mind, the air still thick with the scent of meat as leftover chunks of fat still drip from the rack and sizzle on the coals. Wonderful! Water makes the finish a whole lot sweeter, and it carries the honey from the palate all the way through to the very end of the finish.

Verdict:

This is a wonderful peated Islay, and one of my absolute favourites from the category. Whenever I pour myself a dram, I know I’m in for a treat. And it’s so much fun to play around with as well. Water really transforms this dram, giving you many more flavours to explore. And even though the flavours are big and bold, the whole dram is nuanced enough to please even those that don’t have the biggest love for the category. I paid roughly 55 euro for this one and while I don’t consider that to be the best value for what’s on the label, I never regret buying it at that price when I look at what I find in my glass. I think it’s fair to say that this might not be a bargain, but I doubt it will disappoint you if you do buy yourself a bottle. Sláinte Mhath!

Rating:

91/100

Value:

B

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes. And how I determine rating and value.

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