weller antique 107 review

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Year Scotch

Bruichladdich Port charlotte heavily peated 10 year

Distillery: Bruichladdich

Type & Region: Scotch, Islay, Scotland, UK

Alcohol: 50%

Composition: 100% malted barley

Aged: 10 years in ex-American whiskey and French wine casks

Color: 0.6/2.0 on the color scale (old gold)

Price: $65-75

From the Bruichladdich website:

“This Port Charlotte 10 year old has been conceived, distilled, matured and bottled on Islay alone. We are a young team with deep-rooted values, and an ambition to make the ultimate “Islay” Islay whisky. A whisky made by people not software; a whisky watched over every day of its maturing life by those who made it; a whisky born of a community with a vision and a mission to kick start a single malt whisky revolution, this Port Charlotte 10 year old is who we are. This is where we’re from.”

Company Website

weller antique 107 overview

With Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Year, we have a usually readily available (at least for me) and award-winning 10 year old Islay Scotch that was ranked #4 in Whisky Advocate’s Top 20 Whiskies of 2018 and received Double Gold at the 2018 San Francisco Spirits Competition. Usually, these types of whiskies tend to start flying off the shelves and either be very difficult to find or heavily marked up, but for some reason Port Charlotte 10 Year hasn’t had either happen, so lucky us.

As frustratingly secretive Scotch-makers can be, it’s refreshing to see Bruichladdich attempt some level of transparency in disclosing the blend, so below is the breakdown of the blend.


  – 65% 1st fill American whiskey casks (probably bourbon)

  – 10% 2nd fill American whiskey casks (probably bourbon)

  – 25% 2nd fill French wine casks (unclear if it’s red or white wine)


I visited the Bruichladdich distillery on Islay in 2015 and came away very impressed with the distillery and Islay itself. Islay is such a small, quiet, and beautiful place that lets the Scotch age in peace surrounded by salty ocean, refreshing air, and gorgeous scenery; you might even call it paradise. I’ll stop reminiscing now and get down to business in this Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Year Scotch review.


Thanks to Ryan B. for this birthday gift. Sorry for taking so long to do this review.

weller antique 107 smell

When it comes to peated Scotch, I’ve primarily been drinking Laphroaig peat monsters (10 year Cask Strength and Cairdeas Triple Wood to be exact), so Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 year is a drastic change. Instead, it’s a more delicate smoke with some mesquite, dried mushrooms, and charcoal with proportionally more bright honey, flowers, vanilla, and grapefruit. While this is much more floral than Laphroaig, there’s still something dark underneath that’s tough to identify, maybe it’s the wine influence. The nose overall is round with a lot of character and not much heat; and unlike those cask strength Laphroaigs (55-59% ABV range), this Bruichladdich is not big, but more subtle and delicate.

 

Swirling brings out a tad more alcohol prickle, but also a bright, sweet, and floral nose with less smoked wood and mushroom this time as my nose adjusts to the peat, which provides a gentle smoke, barbeque, and fungal sensations. There’s bright honey, vanilla, ripe peach, green apple, squeeze of citrus, and bouquet of flowers. Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Year really reminds me of a smoked and oaked white wine, but a little darker with a hint of dark fruit, so maybe an extra-aged Fino sherry. This really isn’t that peaty, but then again a Peathead. I guess I’ve gotten so used to Laphroaig that I sometimes forget that peat can be easygoing, letting the softer honey and fruit notes shine instead.

weller antique 107 taste & aftertaste

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 year initially has slightly ashy and smoky honey, vanilla, citrus, and lightly toasted wood flavors that are equally balanced between the peat and sweetness. I’m serious, the peat does not take over at any point: it’s very much a supporting actor / actress. The mouthfeel is also quite viscous and nice (probably because its non-chill filtered), and without a ton of heat.

 

“Chewing” still provides lightly smoky and very sweet flavors of honey, pear, apple, vanilla, a little oak, char, and dried mushroom, with just a little bit of fresh spring greens from the peat. Unlike Laphroaig, the peat is not very vegetal or ocean-y, but instead earthy and barbeque-y (yum). Even without all the heft behind it, Port Charlotte 10 is still round and flavorful, and I especially like the fruity splash. It’s more bright, lively, and savory, and less dark and smoky. I enjoy it a ton.

 

A light smokiness follows into the finish with honey, grapefruit, flower, and peach. Slightly fungal mushrooms appear after 15 seconds, making it a barbeque-y and floral finish. “Chewing” culls out sweet barbeque sauce with honey, peach, onion powder, garlic powder, smoke, and wood char. It’s a savory yet sweet finish that leaves a nice tingle on my tongue and also provides some spring green-like vegetalness after a minute as everything fades (I only know this because I add vegetables to my workout smoothies). The smoke and wood tannin build with each sip, which is very pleasant. 

Place on the Whiskey Shelf

Top Shelf

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Year is a fantastic Scotch that I’ve relished drinking, but it still leaves me a little conflicted. On one hand, it’s a beautifully sweet, fruity, floral, and delicate Scotch that harnesses peat as a complementary feature and not the burly star of the show. On the other hand, I miss some of the extra oomph because I tend to lean towards big and bold Scotches (e.g., cask strength Laphroaigs and bourbons) just because that’s how I prefer my whiskeys and food. Still, Port Charlotte 10 Year is objectively (in my subjective opinion) an outstanding Scotch that finely balances the smoke and mostly ex-bourbon aging like an Olympic gymnast sticking the landing. It’s undoubtedly “Top Shelf” Scotch for me, but admittedly it doesn’t completely line-up with my preferences. 


I believe that this Port Charlotte 10 Year has the right mix of bourbon-aged Scotch-ness and peat that can convert people to peated Scotch. If not, then there’s no hope for them. Doing some reading after the fact, Bruichladdich mentions that their Scotches are very floral, and I can personally confirm that. To be clear, if you’re looking for a peat bomb, this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a subdued peat and great all-around Scotch experience that gently guides you through all the fantastic scents and flavors, then the Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Year Scotch is the one to buy. Not that $65-75 is affordable, but that tends to be the cost of entry into great Scotch in the US these days.    

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