Last in our Port Charlotte cask evening was one that stumped our entire group. We sampled it blind, with no clue beyond everyone knowing the whiskies sampled that evening were from the same distillery, similar age, barley, peat level yet matured in different casks.
What did we find?
Port Charlotte MP5 10 year (2005/2016) Virgin Oak Cask #005 63.5%
- Colour – Dark amber
- Nose – Dark chocolate, cinnamon spice, raisins, prunes, apricot, such fruity sweet, almost sweet wine-like, shifting from dark to white chocolate nougat, vanilla, cappuccino, marmalade, walnut, not a hint of peat… then after some time, became almost meaty with a subtle ash and… believe it or not… bubblegum! After even more time… was that lemon custard? Or coconut cream pie?
- Palate – Spice, even more than the others this one was sooooooo sweet! Then a roaring spice behind the sweet which eased into a ginger spice, followed by salt, roasted coffee bean and a gentle peat, with wonderful oils
- Finish – Lovely
- Water – Needs a splash of water – then it becomes juicy, fruity and simply fabulous!
For some, this was the favourite or runner up of the night!
There was something so completely appealing about the complexity of the aromas and, once water was added, it was absolutely wonderful on the palate. There was a lovely balance between the fruits, chocolate and light peat… which initially had a ‘barely there’ quality but revealed itself after adding water.
And our cask speculation?
After tossing out possibilities from rum to muscatel to sherry PX, most settled on Port thanks to its rich sweet character. No one even came close to guessing French virgin oak.
With the reveal, everyone was stunned!
On two counts…
- First, did it really get all these elements from virgin oak?
- And second, while it really came into its own with water, how could it be 63.5% after 10 years!
For both… there was more to the story which can be found in the MP5 broadcast with Adam and Allan.
Let’s start with the alcohol strength…
63.5% seems nearly impossible for 10 years until you consider the approach taken at Bruichladdich. Unlike other distillers that first add water to their new make spirit to bring it to a uniform 63.5% before maturing, Bruichladdich puts it into the cask at the full force of a true cask strength which is closer to 70%.
And what about the cask?
They shared that after nearly 10 years in an ex-bourbon cask, it was finished for 6 months in a French virgin oak with a medium char from Seguin Moreau cooperage which held nothing before… they credited the virgin oak for providing the depth of colour to the whisky.
An interesting twist… all we know is that we really enjoyed the results!
What more do we know from the bottle?
- Barley type: Optic
- Distilled: 30.11.2005
- Bottled: 2016 – Aged 10 years
- Cask Type: Virgin Oak
- Warehouse: P4. L8 – Dunnage
I purchased this set at The Single Cask in Singapore and we opened the bottles in August 2018 in Mumbai.
- Port Charlotte MP5 10 year (2005/2016) Fresh Bourbon Cask #1999 56.9%
- Port Charlotte MP5 10 year (2005/2016) Bourbon / Bordeaux Cask #0013 59.9%
- Port Charlotte MP5 10 year (2005/2016) Virgin Oak Cask #0005 63.5% – This post
We also started our evening comparing casks with a Port Charlotte 8 year Cognac Cask 57.8%.