Port Charlotte PC 11 Heavily Peated

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Distillery/Brand: Port Charlotte | Region: Islay | ABV: 59.5% | Color: Pale Gold
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 89

Review
I’m a huge fan of the Port Charlotte series from Bruichladdich. It is the brainchild of the legendary Master Distiller Jim Mcewan and is an experiment in cask exploration.

Port Charlotte sits in between the mildly or non-peated standard range and the highly peated Octomores. The PC spirit was laid soon after the distillery was re-opened thanks to the foresight of independent bottlers Murray McDavid. Jim Mcewan, who had worked at Bowmore since he was 15, was hired as Master Distiller and Production Director.

Under his guidance the PC series was born in 2001. The aim was to release a cask strength whisky every year from the time it reached five years of age. And so PC5 was the first in the series.

Now up to 11 the PC range has accumulated quite a following and for good reason too. No chill filtration, artificial coloring and served at cask strength this is a throwback to the days when there was no wifi and whiskies were hand made.

The PC 11 is titled Eòrna Na h-Alba which is Gaelic for Scottish Barley. Yes, you guessed it, all barley used in the making is Scottish. The spirit has been matured in Oloroso sherry butts and walks a lovely line between sherry sweetness and Islay flavors.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 59.5%

Nose: Quite salty. Lots of coastal sea air. Lemon. Peat. Hint of smoke. A little sour. Wet wood. Black peppers. Macaroon cake. Coconut. Caramel. Takes time for the nose to adjust. The fumes are super strong. A couple of drops of water opens it up quite nicely. What’s not to like?

Palate: Smoke. Chocolate. Coffee beans. Peat. White pepper. Black peppers. Fish oil. Classic Islay flavors working well with the sweetness of the Oloroso. Adding a couple of drops makes it more palatable and creamier. Coffee comes out stronger as does the oak.

Finish: Cold cuts. White pepper. Oak. Chocolate.

This is not a beginners whisky by any standards due to the high strength and fairly strong peat levels. Takes very well to water, though. Can’t wait for the PC 12!

Rating: 89

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AnCnoc Rutter

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Distillery/Brand: AnCnoc | Region: Highland | ABV: 46% | Color: Pale Straw
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93

Review
Knockdhu opened it’s doors to the general public in the small village of Knock in Aberdeenshire thanks to the foresight of one Mr John Morisson. The year was 1892 and when he saw the peat lands surrounding Knock estate and an abundance of spring water his first thought was distillery!

One of the ‘younger’ distilleries Knockdhu lies on the edge of Speyside but is considered a Highland distillery. They also produce a strangely difficult to pronounce expression by the name of AnCnoc (a-knock) named after the nearby Knock hill – as if Knockdhu wasn’t hard enough.

While generally churning out un-peated spirits there are a few months of the year when they produce a peated distillate. And that is what has been packaged as a range of four different whiskies each differentiated by it’s peat strength and, impossible to remember, peat digging tool names.

I give you Flaughter, Rutter, Tushkar and Cutter. All tools used in the excavation of peat.

The one I have in my hand at the moment is called Rutter (which is basically a spade, guys, but I think Rutter sounded more romantic. Imagine drinking a Spade.) and has been peated to 11 parts per million or 11PPM.

While I can go on about the marketing choices that went in coming up with this theme I have to admit that this is a mighty fine single malt.

Matured in American Oak Hogshead this is a No Age Statement (WHY?????) and bottled at 46%. My sample is from a brand new bottle.

Nose: Mild peat. Citrus. Banana. Toffee. Vanilla pudding. Strawberries. Wild flowers. Almonds. Cashew nuts. Sponge cake. Jute rope. Cardboard. Burnt bread crust. Perfumed peach. It’s lovely and understated. The mild peat works quite remarkably with all the sweetness.

Palate: Light peat. Ash. Pudding. Vanilla. Mild spices. Lots of fruits. Green apples. Pineapples. Touch of leather. And, seriously, what an insanely perfect body! Like soft velvet. Not a jagged edge in sight. Wonderfully rounded with the ability to effortlessly cascade over your entire palate.

Finish: Peat. Mild spice. Touch of fruit.

This is quite a masterful act in balance and understatement. I love whiskies like these. Young and confident with a maturity beyond the obvious. This reminded me of the 2014 Ardbeg Kildalton (which I spoke very highly of). The only difference is that the Ardbeg is four times the price.

If you want someone to appreciate the finer points of a peated whisky without overwhelming them then this is the dram to do it with.

Rating: 93