Category Archives: Port Charlotte

Two Bruichladdich distillery-only “Valinch” bottlings. One is sublime, the other is like drinking a dead muskrat.


And so it goes with single casks; and so it goes with whisky in general… While many whiskies can be average to really good (in the “non-point-based” scale system or, the “how-was-the-overall-experience?” system) some can also be great, amazing, etc… and every now and again, life changing.

There are also, from time to time, some amazingly bad whiskies out there.

Today I am reviewing two Bruichladdichs and these whiskies are so polar opposite, I thought it’d be great for them to share blog-post space.

Before moving forward, I must say that I have a particular devotion to Bruichladdich.  I am so in love with their spirit and their evolving story is something of great interest to me.  Also, The Laddie Ten is currently my #1 go-to whisky these days.  I consider it to be, perhaps, the best 10yo whisky on the market.  Period.

So, let’s start off with the really-really BAD Bruichladdich.  It’s called “Coming of Age” and it is one that I got in August of 2011.

Bruichladdich-Coming-of-ageBruichladdich Coming of Age “valinch” bottling.  58.7% ABV – Palo Cortado cask, 9yo

On the nose –  A drying, yet previously soaked, coffee filter filled with last week’s, and now moldy, Luizianne coffee.

Bruichladdich-1The musk of a feral ferret that has both the mange and rabies.  Also like smelling chocolate covered death.  Horrific from the get-go and magnificently so.

Seriously, I never nosed a such a bad smelling whisky, ever.   Yet like being unable to look away from a train wreck, I can’t stop nosing it.  “It can’t be *that* bad, can it?!” asks me. “Yes, yes it can” I reply.

Bruichladdich-2On the mouth –  This is like licking a blood soaked rusty prison shiv.  I feel like my blood might mix in.  It’s sort of scary.

Flat root beer meets flat cola meets gauze pads loaded with browned and dried iodine and blood.

Hey, great mouthfeel!

Bruichladdich-3My mouth is coated with flavors of a five pound bag of dead mice.  Chicory galore and more coffee (albeit OLD coffee).

Finish – Why won’t it stop.  It’s endless and surely taking years off of my life.

In sum – The best balanced worst whisky I’ve ever had.  Plain and simple.  Much like that dead rodent in the walls of your office, this is a conversation piece.  I highly recommend you get a bottle if you can find one!

Port-charlotte-predictionPort Charlotte Prediction “valinch” bottling.  63.5% ABV – 9yo (wine finished? Not enough info on the bottle.)

Bruichladdich-4On the nose –  Milk chocolate and warm milk drenched digestive cookies.  This was quickly followed everything very vegetal including celery with celery salt and freshly snapped dandelion stems.

Light white wine-like notes mixed with malt and LOTS of it.  This is more like a heavily peated Bruichladdich than a lightly peated Port Charlotte (if you catch my meaning).

The  final sniff test offers up some lime popsicles.  Yum!

Bruichladdich-5On the mouth –  Much peatier than the nose offered me.  White grapes and a shaker of pepper.  Other than this, very similar to the nose.  Overly enjoyable.

Elegance without being delicate.  Like drinking a female body builder (that still looks like a lady).

Great mouthfeel.  Very much one of the things I look for in a whisky.

Finish – Long and peppery and sweet and like a super treat

In sum – When it comes to the peaty treats, this is what I look for in a whisky.  It’s got everything.

I pour this only on special occasion and today’s special occasion was comparing it to the abortion that was the “Coming of Age” Valinch.’s review of the “Coming of Age” death-whisky is much more flattering than mine…

Tasting five SMWS bottlings

Back in October, 2011, I had the pleasure of attending the Boston Single Malt and Scotch Whisky Extravaganza which is held by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America.

If you’re not a member of the SMWS(A) then the Extravaganza would be the only place you’d get to try their Single Cask, Cask Strength whiskies (they always 5 of their bottlings to sample from at these shows).  And while that’s all fine and dandy, not being a member means you are excluded from access to their 60 or so whiskies they release on a yearly basis (about 5 per month).

Being upfront, I am not an employee of the SMWS and do not receive any compensation to tout their goodness.  I’m just a proud, card carrying member of the society and have been wowwed enough times by the whiskies they release (and I buy) that I feel comfortable in saying that you should consider becoming a member.

Again, with being upfront, I will tell you that not all of their whiskies are winners.  I’ve have had a few bottlings, here and there, that were just not up my alley.  We all have different palates so it makes sense that I’m going to find one that the society loved and I just did not.

Last disclaimer – the whiskies being reviewed below were samples given to me by the SMWS – special thanks goes out to Gabby for the samples!

“Pass the Flapjacks” – 50.42 – 18yo – Refill ex-bourbon Hogshead – 56.9% – Bladnoch$130/bottle

On the nose –  A sweet, yet light nose.  Fresh honey crisp apples, cotton candy and cola barrels (those brown hard candies).  Unbaked sweet buns; heavy on the sweet unbaked doughy notes.  Not a super complex nose but very warming/inviting.  With water, those buns start to bake a bit but that apple sweetness goes away.  Milk chocolate fudge.

On the mouth – Very hot, alcoholic and sweet.  More apples and honey.  I think it needs water.  Celery and salt (but not celery salt – I’ve gotten this mix before from other whiskies).  Cinnamon and cinnamon red hot hearts (with that added sugar from the candy).  Water calms it down a bit and brings out more of the honeyed quality.

Finish – Medium in length, some slight drying and an apple sweetness comes through.

“Chutney on hot wood” – 71.33 – 20yo – Refill sherry butt – 57.4% – Glenburgie $140/bottle

On the nose –  I think the SMWS notes provided on the bottle (which I read afterwards) hit it on the head with the French onion soup note – beef stock, onions and sharp cheese all wrapped into one.  Cooked ginger and heavy sweet rum cakes.  Spiced & cooked nuts and dirty socks – reminds me (a bit) of the SMWS Macallan 24.111.  I think it’s the type of sherry cask (Amontillado perhaps?).

On the mouth – Very sweet and savory with combined notes of liver and onions and hoisin sauce.  This is an odd duck that shouldn’t work but does; and in a very cool way.  No water needed here.  The attack is welcome and the flavors are aggressive.  Nice drying effect toward the end.

Finish – Warming, savory and woody yet not overly so.  Long.

“Old Fashioned Tea Chests and Maple Candy” – 125.48 – 12yo – Dechar/rechar ex-bourbon hogshead – 52.1% – GlenmorangieAs of Dec 14, 2011, this is yet to be released.

On the nose –  Very very sweet.  Scents of ice wine and Halls cough drops – menthol and all.  Under ripe stone fruits.  Danish butter cookies (I love butter cookies!) and an old shalalee.  White berries (gooseberry mostly).  With time, the Glenmorangie character really comes through.  Like and intense and spicy Glenmorangie Original.

On the mouth – Woody (as expected with a dechar/rechar cask).  I’m getting notes that I’d usually associate with a sherried whisky like dried fruit and leather yet there’s also flavors I’d normally find in an ex-bourbon barrel like vanilla, pencil shavings and cinnamon.

Finish – Short finish.  Tannic and leathery.

“Alice in Wonderland whisky” – 27.90 – 10yo – Refill ex-bourbon Hogshead – 50.6% – Springbank$90/bottle

On the nose –  Smoldering beach fire with wet drift wood (think of thick salty smoke here).  Not unlike and ashtray.  Peppery as well.  Excuse me while I sneeze.  Hidden, way in the background is something sweet… Pixie stix?

On the mouth – Sweet and smokey and sooty and burnt and doused fires and burnt sugar on creme brule and motor oily with a side of brazil nuts.

Finish – Insanely long – imagine enjoying this at a construction site while a parking lot is being laid while you are eating bit-o-honeys.

“Desperate Dan whisky” – 127.9 – 9yo – Refill ex-bourbon Barrel – 56.9% – Port Charlotte$90/bottle

On the nose –  A bit of a shy nose but unmistakably peaty – not smokey, peaty.  Also, extremely medicinal and… sterile and things that should remain sterile like old folks homes and hospital beds.  Also some dried cardboard in here (perhaps more of the tails cut in the original spirit run?).  Dried pineapples.

On the mouth – Tropical fruits all around – pineapples, star fruits and ever a floral quality to it.  Spicy too.  Burnt microwave popcorn.  Did I mention that the mouthfeel was big, oily and lush?  Very nice.

Finish – Long and hot and drying.

In sum – This was a wild ride.  Five completely different whiskies from the same bottler.  While I’d not reach out for every bottle here, as one who loves to explore whisky, I could do this again and again.  In the end, was there a winner (other than me or you, should you try something like this)?  It’s got to be the 71.33 – Glenburgie.  I loved the mix of flavors, balance and complexity.

Happy dramming!!

Port Charlotte 8yr Single Cask – Bottled by the SMWSA – Cask number 127.1

Islay region – 66.5%ABV – $85 (no longer available – only 231 bottles available)

Years ago, my father (now divorced from my mother) did something crazy.  He gave up his apartment, bought a 25′ foot sail boat, rented a spot at a local marina a lived life on the water.

He cracks me up.  He could live in a pick up truck in a parking lot if he had to/wanted to.  This is a man who lives the saying “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”.  What a man!

Back to the boat and marina:

Growing up, I’d see my dad every weekend.  When he lived on the boat I had the great opportunity to experience the ocean air, the beach and a shit ton of dead horse-show crabs, fish, seaweed, etc….  The sights, the smells, the water, it was a great time and I looked forward to every weekend.

Tasting this whisky brought me back to that time in my life; in his life.  I’ve said it before – one of the most beatiful things about whisky is that it can transport to back in time through smell and taste memory.  A wonderful, wonderful thing.

On the noseI’m instantly transported to a hot summer day at the beach by the docks – salt air fills my nose as does engine exhaust (though mild).

Brine and soot abounds.

Sweet vanilla and even some citronella.

Hints of baby sick.

With water: those baby sick/sour milk notes are much more prominent (almost makes me wish we had a little baby in the house again).

A touch soapy now too.

On the mouthLike squeezing a hot pepper and lighting the oil spray on fire.  In my mouth. Sweet fancy Moshe, this is some hot stuff!

An extra tiny sip before I add water unearths some peat smoke and a sooty exhaust pipe (and a dash of sweet  honey & jam).

With water (bringing it down to about 58%ABV): Oof, that’s better!

Berry jam from the start then some cooked butter.

Creamy vanilla and a soft mouth feel (it was tough to tell the mouth feel before… when my mouth was on fire).

FinishLong finish with an odd mix of briny green olives and honey – two layered flavors.

In sumThis one will put hair on your chest or make your boobies bigger (for the ladies out there).  While I’m not sure either is a good thing, my point is that this is some powerful, powerful stuff.  However, it’s right up my alley.  Even though drinking this reminds me of summer days on the shoreline of Connecticut, it’s thoroughly enjoyable in the wintertime and man, do we have a winter here in CT in 2011!!  The snowiest January on record!!

Port Charlotte PC7 – Bruichladdich’s 7yo Cask Strength Peaty Goodness!!

Islay Region – 61%ABV – $90 | £63 | €73

Here in the Northeast; beautiful picturesque (mostly picturesque; I’m traveling through northeast New Jersey right now…) Northeast/New England we just encountered a massive, massive snow storm.  The second large storm in a two week span.

While normally I’d love this, it just so happens that I am trying ever so hard just to get home so love turns into hate & frustration.  As I write this review I am sitting on a train back to Connecticut that may not make it all the way there.  I left Chicago yesterday afternoon (luckily) and got to Philadelphia around 3:00pm or so expecting to hop on a 5:55 train back to CT.  I decided to pass on that train as US Airways told me that my flight to CT was still on, leaving at 5:40pm.

The flight was canceled at 5:38pm.

My wife was good girl and she found a super-duper, over-priced hotel (perhaps the only hotel with vacancies due to the cost) for me to stay at.  Thanks babes!!

Last night I “enjoyed” vegetarian food at the steakhouse which is adjacent to the hotel.  Ha!  Accompanying my dinner was some Glenmorangie Original and Talisker 175th Anniversary (no complaints there).

This morning I walked to the 30th street train station and picked up my train tickets and hoped onto the train back home to Connecticut.  Yay!!

My wife texted me to let me know that there was no service to CT but I didn’t believe her.  Amtrak told me there were no issues… until I got to the gate.  Then they announced there would be no service to CT. Ugh.  Note to all the husbands and/or life partners out there: LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE!  SHE KNOWS HER SHIT.

So.  Here we are.  Here I am – now on a train which will stop in NYC hoping on a wing and a prayer that the tracks will be cleared and this locomotive will be allowed to get me back home!

It’s situations like this and weather such as we’re experiencing here in the Northeast that make me want to reach for some Port Charlotte whisky!!  I reviewed the PC6, 6yo whisky here.  Today I am reviewing the PC7:

On the noseSoured milk.  More soured milk – in a surprisingly good way.

Rich & creamy butter.

Honey, yogurt and salted caramel.

Peaty but not very smoky.

Bruised apples.

New cotton.

Some youth showing through (in the form of pears), but hey, this is only 7 years old.

On the mouth Mustard seed and other savory herbs.

Smoke, Eeyores thistles and pricker bushes.

Salty and buttery.

The apples from the nose are here.

More sour milk.

Mostly big & smokey but there’s a good deal of licorice in there too – and maybe a touch of vanilla.

Finish Long with burnt sugar and Kiss™ brand licorice rock-n-roll dresses (as if you’ve never had one!?).

In sum I’m a fan of the Port Charlotte.  This one is nice but the PC6 was a mammoth.  Looking forward to trying more of these.  A winter dram for sure.  This stuff will light you on fire from the inside out.

Port Charlotte “PC6” – Bruichladdich’s heavily peated young whisky

Islay region – 61.6%ABV – 750ml bottle – $120 | £95 | €115

Let the love affair begin.  I’ve heard lots of good news about Bruichladdich’s newer Port Charlotte range.  LOTS of good news.  And lately, I’ve been hearing some great stuff about the “PC6”.  In case you haven’t figured it out yet, “PC” stands for “Port Charlotte” and the “6” tells us that, you guessed it, it’s a 6 year old whisky.

My first reaction to the fact that this is only six years old is similar to the reaction many people have had — “only six years old and it’s how much money???”  Oy vey ishmir!

I had a conversation with a guy from Binny’s a while back on the same subject – why so much for such a young whisky (at the time we were discussing last year’s Ardbeg Supernova)?  He brought up a good point: “Who cares?  Is it good whisky?” he asked.  “Yes”, I told him.  He went on. “Then why does age matter?  You’re paying for a well crafted single malt.  You’re paying for a work of art.  Who cares how old it is”.  Like I said, he makes a good point.  Deep in the back of my head there’s that little voice that says “still though…” —   But truly, I think he’s right.

So what’s all of this good news I speak about?  Check out my links below.  Firstly, let’s taste this and see if it’s worth it’s weight in whisky (a special thanks to DH for the sample!!):

On the nose — Big-ass smoke!  Powerfully pungent with smoke like burning driftwood (think salty peat or perhaps a beach bonfire).  Sparklers on the 4th of July (for my US readers out there).  Soured & sweet milk notes (baby vomit).

Serge of Whisky Fun nailed it with his detection of buttered mashed potatoes – on the nose Serge (pun intended)! Leather jackets and damp horse stable.  That leather smell alone makes me want to break out Iggy Pop’s “Raw Power”.  Either that or Yes’ Close to the Edge and put in on full blast – two very different albums but somehow both fitting to this whisky.  Powerful yet complex and beautiful.

On the mouth — Mmmm, mmmm – chewy smoked cheese, electrical charges and spent matches, tannic, drying but first a nice juicy entry.  Fruity notes and buttermilk biscuits (albeit burnt ones).

The peat is wonderful here and somehow refreshing even in this hot weather (it hit 89 deg fahrenheit today!).  At 61.6% ABV I know I should add a little water but this is so nice at full strength.

Finish — It’s all on the leather and now some great grassy floral notes (almost rose petal) come out, then some burn arrives and it gets a tad effervescent.  Even an hour later and my mouth is still filled with smoke and ash.  Love it!

In sum Wonderfully heavily-peated expression.  If you’re not a peat fan, you probably have not read this far down in the review…  If you’re interested in getting into peated and smokey whiskies this will surely pique your interest (but may scare the living shit out of you; in a good way though, like the first time you saw The Exorcist.  Scary as hell but, you watched it again and could not wait for the pea soup to flow).  If you’re a peathead, welcome to heaven.

See what others have to say:

Serge of Whisky Fun!

Dr. Whisky

The Casks