Monday, 25 May 2015

Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2008 Review

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2008 - 50% abv.

This is a Bruichladdich I've been waiting for for a while. Its a Port Charlotte distilled in 2008 from an impressively traceable terroir of Islay barley farms. It states right on the bottle that the barley comes from Coull, Kynagarry, Island, Rockside, Starchmill & Sunderland farms. 

I would suggest this means that they either put a bunch of barely together and distilled it all together or that they did a run of each farms barley sequentially and put the spirit into casks and married them when they bottled this. After spending some time with Duncan Taylor and Simon Coughlin on Islay in April, I'd say either is certainly possible as Bruichladdich continues to develop huge variations in their product.

Either way, incredible to have small batch, hand made whisky like this available at reasonably affordable prices!
click photo to enlarge

Colour: Pale gold.

Nose: lightly perfumed with very clear vanilla, lemon, honey, and nice thread of smoke like you get from burnering moist heather. There's mint in there as well as the scent of salt-lashed botanicals. There's a bit of floral notes in there too.

Palate: softer than I expected. A very well-balanced initial flow of light sweetness, salt, lemon, and mint. This appears to be aged 100% in american oak and the flavour suggests this as well. There isn't the sherry cask richness that seems to be in the Port Charlotte Scottish Barley. Another taste - sweet, creamy vanilla leading into a very salty lemon rush that leads to white pepper and mint and peat smoke.  This truly is a pleasant dram! 

Oh! Add a little water and it sweetens up a bit. Weird but this does happen with some whiskies. There's thick honey, lemon, and smoke. This like two whiskies - like above without water and then richer and sweeter with water. So good! There's a really nice white and black pepper through there which, combined with the sweet, salty, citrus, and smoke notes makes for a really nice, balanced peated whisky. Every now and then I think the arrival is like biting into a really ripe grapefruit. You don't get grapefruit often in whisky but I think this one has it.

Finish: you'll taste this one a while after you drink. The finish makes just to the Adam's apple.

When would I drink this? This really seems like a great dram to have a crisp, sunny afternoon. But it can work as a night cap on a damp night too. Another home run small batch Port Charlotte!

PS. The packaging is stellar too! The white makes it jump of the shelf into your shopping cart!