Terroir matters for Bruichladdich, as the packaging states, which explains why this Port Charlotte was made with barley grown exclusively in Scotland. Barley is often an international affair, with distilleries importing it from as far as Ukraine for example. Bruichladdich have of course produced even more local varieties of their whisky, moving closer to Single Estate with their Islay Barley editions.
Nose: This is farmy, ‘dirty’ smoke with notes of earth and hay. After a few minutes, sea spray and a tannic bitter note that I always seem to get in whisky matured in wine casks. There is no information on the types of casks used here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some red wine casks had found their way in the vatting. Overall, I find this nose young, bold, and maybe a bit unfocussed, with a few disparate notes battling for attention.
Palate: Quite young and rough. Spicy oak, intense peat, vanilla and hay. Water brings a lot of sweetness from the casks. It’s also quite a herby and grassy malt, in contrast to other heavily peated Islays.
Finish: Medium, quite oaky – tannins enveloped in smoke.
Comments: This is clearly a young whisky with a lot of active oak, but it’s a confident and exuberant one. Personally I prefer the cleaner profile of a young Ardbeg, Caol Ila or Lagavulin, but this Port Charlotte certainly has a style of its own. Incidentally, I always seem to find Bruichladdich, whether peated or unpeated, to have a farmy profile reminiscent of some Ledaigs, but I don’t see it mentioned much. As usual with Bruichladdich, this was a whisky I wanted to like more than I actually did. It’s not quite my style of a heavy peater, but I do enjoy it when the mood is right.