Port Charlotte MRC:01 2010 Heavily Peated

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The first release of the Port Charlotte MRC ‘Cask Exploration Series’ which will see the heavily peated spirit veer away from straight ex-bourbon cask maturations.

Port Charlotte is the heavily peated brand from the Bruichladdich distillery on Islay, the other brands being the namesake un-peated and Octomore ultra-peated expressions.

Distilled from 100 percent Scottish barley, MRC:01, a 2010 vintage, was matured in first-fill American ex-bourbon casks and second-fill French wine casks.

These are then combined for a marrying year in a ex-Bordeaux left bank wine barrel.

Bottled at 59.2%, this is a limited release with a very modest Australian allocation.

A hit during our February 2019 Port Charlotte whisky tasting, we have just a handful of bottles that weren’t snapped up during that night’s pre-orders.

Tasting notes from Bruichladdich:

Nose: Initially you are met with a summer fruit and peat smoke extravaganza! Raspberry and cherry, with Turkish delight and smoky driftwood embers burst from the glass jostling for attention. There is a distinctly summer feel to this dram, no brooding peat monster it has a light, bright and fruity air. As the whisky opens you find the Islay sea breeze, ozone and salty. The oak, both American and French give real depth to the dram, classic vanilla, toasted bread, chocolate, roasted coffee beans, liquorice walnut and almond. Each time you go back to the glass there seems to be a bubble of red berry and ripe plum bursting under your nose.

Palate: Certainly warming at 59.2%, lively and sweet with icing sugar and marshmallow, bound in smoke. There is a rush to capture all that is taking place. Sweet red fruit and peat smoke melt away slightly as the power of the oak comes through with tobacco leaf and toasted oak. Maple syrup, pecan and coffee are complimented by hints of orange and cooked peach. There is a complexity here that didn’t seem possible on the first sip. As you go back to the glass that initial rush of flavour has become a more complete experience. Nowthere is salt spray, dry smoke and the oak is more prominent, raspberry and plum combine with vanilla and butterscotch.

Finish: On the finish the peat smoke is a little more medicinal than normal, think bandages and creosote. A dryness from the oak tells of the toasting of the French and the char of the American and the final combination in premium French oak together. The influence of the extra maturation in sumptuous first growth casks has added a layer of fruit that weaves its way through the smoke and into the heart of the whisky. The spirit is viscous and textured allowing a long finish where creamy vanilla, spicy clove and ripe peach melt away from the powerful peat smoke allowing it to finish alone, leaving the Port Charlotte DNA firmly in place.

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Single Malt