Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2008

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

Port Charlotte isn't an actual distillery but one of the brands of Bruichladdich Distillery next to its ultrapeated brother Octomore and the unpeated malts from Bruichladdich. However there was a distillery in the village of Port Charlotte from 1829 till 1929. Two warehouses still exist today and are used by Bruichladdich to mature the peated Port Charlotte spirit. Tonight I'm exploring the Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2008, an expression distilled from barley solely grown on Islay.

Alfred Barnard wrote about the distillery in his book "The Whisky Distilleries of The United Kingdom". Back in the days they called it Lochindaal Distillery. It was located nearby two lakes: the Garoch and Octomore that supplied the distillery with the much-needed water. The kiln was floored with German wire cloth and was very expensive back then.

The Port Charlotte brand consists of four bottlings. The regular Port Charlotte Scottish Barley, the Port Charlotte Islay Barley and the Port Charlotte PC and CC:01 (both are travel retail only whiskies). The barley for this Islay Barley was harvested in September 2008 from the farms at Coull, Kynagarry, Island, Rockside, Starchmill & Sunderland. The barley was peated to 40ppm and distilled in December 2008.

Identity Card Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2008

  • Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2008
  • Bruichladdich Distillery, Bruichladdich (Islay)
  • 2008 Vintage - approx. 6 years old
  • Alcohol: 50 % ABV
  • Distilled in 2008 - bottled in 2014
  • €57 at The Whisky Exchange

Tasting notes Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2008

Colour: This is a pale white wine in the glass. Thin and swift legs appear after swirling.

Nose: Smoked halibut, sweet bread dough and white chocolate. It reminds me of one of the better Vestal vodkas. A young and fruity spirit. Green eucalyptus candy and some vegetal aromas. Jerusalem artichokes and salsify. Smoky eucalytpus bath oil. The smoke is more subdued then I expected in the nose. It's definitely present but not full frontal. A salty citric antisceptic.

With water: Scotty beams you up to an old-fashioned gas station. Burned rubber with a sweet overtone of papaya.

Taste: Light and dry in the mouth. BBQ smoke wood and malt with a bitter note. Eucalyptus and grape seeds. Grain and peat smoke got the lead role on the palate. Dry ash. Black peppercorns. Surprisingly drinkable at 50%. Warm, wintry and creamy.

Water spins some candyfloss and leaves burned caramel behind. Charred wood and smoke are coming forward.

Finish: A powerful diesel engine finish. A last grainy  boost with citrus.

The Islay Barley is different from the Scottish Barley.  Young yet surprisingly complex at only six years. There's more then one NAS claiming a focus on flavour that could take a lesson from the Laddie lads. This Port Charlotte has a bit more of a story to it. Bruichladdich takes pride on keeping detailed records on the origins of its grain and proudly states the provenance on the bottle and gives the farmers the deserved attention.  I could use the famous McDonald's tagline to describe this Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2008. I'm loving it. (But I must admit I'm a little biased.)

I bought a sample of this whisky at Maltclan Whisky Festival  and got  a bottle of it as a present when my daughter Lotte was born in June. Since it’s absolutely no use lying to one’s self,  opinions expressed in this review are of course my own honest opinion.