Water of Life – Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10-year-old
Bruichladdich at large and specifically its Octomore emissions enjoy a near cult-like following, which I do not find further wondrous. I have yet to encounter an evening that did not dramatically improve by pairing the smokiest whisky on this earthround and a hoppy IPA.
If you have ever remotely paid an iota of attention to what is being dealt with as part of the “Water of Life” series, you would concur that stating that I harbour a weak spot for everything peaty and smoky is an understatement par excellence.
Needless to say, that when I become aware that Bruichladdich luminary and ambassador Islay-born Chloe Wood would hold court down under, it almost instantly made my calendar.
Originally hailing from the south of Port Charlotte and having grown up alongside the evolution of Bruichladdich to the global player it has become through her family’s involvement in running the drying operations for the barley fueling their distillery operations, and all the barley grown on Islay for that matter, she eventually found an entry point to the realm of whisky by joining the “Laddishop” team and has never looked back since. In other words, she is Bruichladdich family and the distillery has gone to the extent of honouring having her onboard with a special bottling, i.e. The Laddie Valinch 28 Chloe Wood, which - as word around the campfire has it, makes a hell of an impressive dram.
Needless to say that having learned from renowned Master Alchemist Jim McEwan Chloe Wood is a charming and knowledgeable encyclopedia of not only all things Islay but whisky in general, as it has become part of her DNA, which enabled her to put the distillery’s flag firmly on Asian territory as she is currently based in Singapore to cater and nurture the ever expanding whisky-centric markets there.
Despite a hectic schedule of numerous events she had to MC as part of her current stint down under, she proved to be highly engaging, approachable and down to earth, Chloe managed to not only expertly answer any query from the hardcore aficionados attendance, including framing her repartee in amusing anecdotes and fun facts, but she also effortlessly manages to instil a sense of intrigue for Bruichladdich’s emissions with the uninitiated.
Proceeding were set off with a Gin and Tonic based on Bruichladdich’s Botanist Gin, a more recent experiment of the progressive Hebridean distillery and its emphasis on the trifecta of the alignment of terroir, people and provenance.
However, the star and centrepiece of the event was Bruichladdich’s first ever permanent introduction of a core-range aged-stated preservation, i.e. Port Charlotte 10-year-old. As with everything heavily peated, this is something I got mildly excited about.
Despite being heavily into Octomore, I have always found the Port Charlotte variants with their interesting cask profiles extremely enjoyable, so expectations were moderately high, and I was not let down.
The chunkier bottle in itself is a thing of beauty: Dark green-coloured reminiscent of military glass opposed to the previous clear variant resonates well aesthetically.
Peated to 40 part per million of peat particles and bottled at 50% ABV and matured in a mix of first- and second fill bourbon as well as French red wine casks without any further additives, this golden manna is soft on the nose as it has fruity notes that dance with subtle peat – the start of a journey that finds its extension with its creamy mouthfeel.
Taste-wise, I was pleasantly surprised not only by the absence of harshness but by the dominant citrus and vanilla notes against the smoky trademark backdrop, which culminates in an elongated finish with nuances of brine.
In layman’s terms: This is yet another winner from the house of Bruichladdich that will at least help a bit to deal with the sheer endless waiting time until new Octomore expressions finally find their way down under.
Read more Water of Life entries here.
Photos by T