Next in our Bruichladdich Peat Progression evening was introduction to the peatier Port Charlotte line with the 2007 Cognac Cask 8 year…. their first experiment with aging completely in French Oak that previously held cognac.
For the Whisky Ladies, this wasn’t our first tryst with a whisky matured in a cognac cask – just a few months earlier we enjoyed the delightful Brenne. For the original tasting club, this was the 1st that I could recall of sampling together a whisky matured in a cognac cask.
The whisky was sampled in three sessions – initially with the Whisky Ladies then a mini session with two ladies who missed followed by our original Mumbai tasting group who had all whiskies completely blind before the reveal.
What did the Whisky Ladies think?
- Peat, black forest ham, pine, an organic natural quality
- Bacon, hickory, with a woodsy quality, then smooth apricot, subtle liquorice
- OMG peat! Woodsy, cigar chomping but not in an overwhelming way at all
- Smooth, oily with prunes, complex
- A bit strange or off at first, after the initial ashtray, settled in
- Bitter, sweet underneath the peat, long drawn out
- With water, cherries were added to the mix. Dampening the forest fire, making it much more approachable, brought out the iron minerals, like entering a wet cave
- Almond nougat, spice, prunes, raisins, dusty musty fur coat from a teak closet on the nose, whereas became a fruitcake on the palate, and an incredibly long drawn out cinnamon sweet finish – much more subtle than before yet lingers in a lovely way
There was initially a sense of this being like a wilder Caol Ila. Yet oddly not quite balanced. One commented that it was “Really good to look at but…”
Whereas the 2nd tasting with just two whisky ladies found this to be more of a “nostalgic ‘character’ whisky” – it was not in the least unbalanced and one that grows on you more and more.
What was clear is that this was no sweet civilized Brenne gently matured in a Cognac cask, instead the underlying sea spray and peat of the Port Charlotte came to the fore for an interesting interplay with Cognac!
And our original underground Mumbai whisky club?
- Nose – A happy hello to peat! Hamond soap, pork bacon, rum sweet, dampened smoke like you doused water on a campfire, wet mud, a dispensary, then a peak of perfume beneath the peat, become sweeter and sweeter, taking on a jasmine or lily quality… as it kept evolving different elements emerged from blue cheese to apricots to an incredibly sweet sticky toffee
- Palate – Unexpectedly robust, yet equally silky smooth, clearly peat with a rounded tar quality, lots of body, character, chewy, almost buttery, many layers with spice, chilli chocolate, meaty, leather
- Finish – Very long big oily finish that just doesn’t disappear
- Water – Some debate on this – for some it brought out more sweet, rancio qualities yet when contrasting those with water and those without – we found without water the whisky continued to evolve its character in a beautiful way whereas the one with water arrested it at that stage
The most remarkable element of this whisky was how it simply kept evolving… we gave time to the experience and the more we spent with it the more we appreciated its unique qualities. This was clearly a ‘non-veg’ kind of whisky… one to enjoy as an after dinner drink with a cigar. One gent asked if he could get away with calling it quite a ‘masculine’ whisky yet it had a sophisticated quality too.
Overall I was thoroughly impressed with how this particular whisky transformed… it is certainly one I would recommend not rushing and possibly deliberately letting it oxidate just a bit. The layers and complexity that revealed itself in the 3rd tasting was far superior to the experience freshly opened.
What do the folks over at Bruichladdich have to say?
As with every Port Charlotte the starting point is rich, elegant and thought-provoking spirit. High-provenance, smoky, heavily peated barley married to our slow, Victorian, trickle distillation delivers power with finesse. Here, this fascinating spirit has been matured full term in casks of finest French oak [Quercus robur]. They previously held one of the greatest Eau de Vie, from the western Cognac region. The salt spray of Islay combines with peat smoke to vie with the toasted oak and lemon barley sugar flavours of the wood to give a complex and unbelievably rewarding dram.
- Character – It’s Port Charlotte, but not as we know it. the spirit of adventure is alive with a wonderful marriage of Port Charlotte spirit with its classic Islay DNA and truly exceptional casks from the heart of France.
- Colour – Rose gold.
- Nose – The DNA is Islay. Peat smoke and salt spray collide with the fruit and complexity of our classic spirit. poached pears, vanilla fudge and sweet apricots. Toasted oak and lemon barley sugar notes rise from the glass as it warms in your hand. As it breathes the whisky will release festive, warming aromas of cinnamon, ginger and more rich vanilla.
- Palate – Irresistibly complex. This dram has layer upon layer of subtle fruit flavours so characteristic of our spirit wrapped comfortingly in the blanket of peat smoke. Yet there is a new dimension to this next release of Port Charlotte. A depth of character that comes from the years of maturation in ex cognac barrels. We have watched the spirit mature slowly over the last eight years to become a beguiling spirit that shows our spirit of curiosity and adventure is alive and well. This spirit has taken us down many paths and this particular journey has come to fruition with a spirit that is a joy to taste. The wonderful french oak gives vanilla and spice and has brought this heavily peated Islay spirit to maturity with a class and finesse beyond its years. The fruit is rich and sweet – apples apricots and plums – as is the barley sugar and lemon honey notes that reassure you this is an Islay spirit matured in our warehouses under our watchful eye.
- Finish – This whisky stays on your mind for longer than your palate and it stays on your palate for an age. Floral heather honey, zesty lemon and a nutty smoothness settle with the peat smoke that is always last to leave you. A truly astonishing whisky.
Our Peat Progression evenings also featured:
- No Peat – The Classic Laddie 50% vs The Laddie Eight 50%
- No Peat – Bere Barley 2008 50%
- Heavy Peat – Port Charlotte 12 Oileanach Furachail 58.7%
- Insanely Heavy Peat – Octomore 07.2 5 years 208 PPM 58.5%
- Insanely Heavy Peat – Octomore 07.1 5 years 208 PPM 59.5%
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