Straight from Jim McEwan’s private stock, and we we hope we won’t have to introduce Jim to our esteemed audience: Bruichladdich’s historic distillery manager, after a life spent in Bowmore, is the man who whispered to the barrels, since the bottling brand is – precisely – owned by the good old Jim. The oldest Port Charlotte we’ve ever had the chance to drink: let’s waste no time and get down to business with this single ex-sherry cask matured 17-year-old malt.
N: wow, what an extreme profile. Very ‘fishy’, very peaty, also very sulphurous. Notes of motor oil, smog, almost. Grilled fish (and the grilling is done on a beach), cooked ham just gone bad, a bit of extinguished matches and sulphur; then a super acrid part of peat, deep and herbaceous. There’s little fruit, rather here’s a vinous edge, reminding us of cooked wine. Peaches in syrup, mirabelles.
P: even if the alcohol remains fairly tame, the profile on the palate is very acrid, aggressive and blunt. Consistent with the nose, there is a hint of grilled fish burger, then something that reminds us of almost rotten blood orange, with a sprinkling of salt on top. OK, reading it like that it’s not exactly conquering, but the experience is very worthwhile.
F: endless and rather weird, with a mix of créme brulée, orange and sulphury pork, iodine and chlorine. Caramelized pork, but Korean style, not Chinese. Kimchi.
Well, you must really like dirty and aggressive whiskies: because this is an ugly, dirty and nasty malt, with its sulphurous veins, its very intense peat and no softness granted, never, not even by accident. The wildest soul of Port Charlotte remains very lively and intense, even after 17 years of ageing: we expected an elegant and mature animal, we found one that was still wild and had no intention of locking itself in a cage. Not bad, mind you, but not so exciting either in our opinion, perhaps a little penalised, to our taste, by a barrel that is certainly a little ‘dirty’ and sulphurous. Only now do we remember that we could have ridden the metaphor of the man who whispered to the barrels, to the horses (riding… wild beast…): what a wasted opportunity, but we won’t rewrite it all from the beginning, because we are excellent people, you know, but we also excel in laziness. 85/100.
Recommended soundtrack: Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name.