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Port Charlotte Scottish Barley

Raw ingredients matter...

0 1787

@hunggarReview by @hunggar

24th Nov 2013

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Overall
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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Some distilleries tend to put an emphasis on barley, and Bruichladdich is one of them. I don’t know why this trend isn’t more widespread within the whisky industry, but it certainly should be. I love that Bruichladdich advertises some of its products based on their selection of barley. I’ve yet to try the Islay Barley release, so I’ll start with the PC Scottish Barley, which is “heavily peated” at 40 ppm. The packaging even goes so far as to mention of a specific farm from which some of the barley was bought. I don’t know the percentages or details, and I don’t really care. I don’t make the stuff, but I do appreciate the fact that it is advertised as domestic barley of a certain quality. Their website touts “raw ingredients matter.” Well said.

Nose: Peat and cereal. Nice, bold smokiness. Fresh barley, big hay, wet grass, vanilla, light honey, apples, pears, peach, citrus rind, ginger, and something like ginseng. A bit of alcoholic bite, reminding us of the healthy 50% abv. Youthful and vibrant.

Palate: An ashy/medicinal greeting that is quickly tempered by a lovely honey note. The smoke here is strong and intense. Coastal spices come in next. Big salt and white pepper.

Finish: Strong, bold smoke that is both delicious and consistent. Bacon, ash, charred oak, and honey round it out. Salt, cereal, fuzzy peach candy and faint pear linger.

This is a fun cracker of a whisky. The cereal notes stand out, with a lovely barley flavour that could only be Bruichladdich. The intensity is reminiscent of the Laph 10. I also like the vibrant coastal notes, which are evocative of OP12. That peach candy note is interesting too, although I can’t think of another whisky to compare it to. These things all combine to give us quite a distinctive and lively whisky that’s definitely a solid addition to the cabinet. A precocious and brazen little Islay rascal.

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17 comments

Rigmorole commented

Here, here. Couldn't agree more. Well put!

5 years ago 0

@PeatyZealot
PeatyZealot commented

I wonder how it differs to the PC10.

5 years ago 0

@bijalon
bijalon commented

Just tasting it for the first time now and your notes are spot on! Wonderful whisky indeed, that has already earned a permanent place in my cabinet. It does have character reminiscent of OP12's maritime theme while the peat boldly states Islay heritage. Also, I've always been slightly wary of E150 and chill filtration arguments. This malt has neither(according to Bruichladdich) and I can almost taste the difference in quality. Hats off to Bruichladdich for doing it right and to you Hunggar for a top notch review!

4 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Peach candy note? My bottle of Macallan 10 Fine Oak had that going on.

Yes, Bruichladdich uses much above average barley. It makes a giant difference. I don't think that the majority of malt drinkers actually like the taste of MOST of the barley CURRENTLY used. How many Connosr members list as favourites malts without prominent peat, smoke, brine, or wine? Very very few.

Thanks for your nice review.

4 years ago 0

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@Victor You have a topic for a great discussion : Which malt do you think is very good in itself without any finish? I myself am thinking of some big names and some not so big.Here are a few: Glenlivett, Glendronach, Cragganmore and ... I don't have enough experience with unpeated Islay to prononce myself about there malts which is very sad in any way you can think of.

4 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

Amrut has some excellent malts, like the cask strength, that have neither peat nor a wine finish. I'm a big fan.

4 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Robert99 and @Nozinan, I especially like the barley from Bruichladdich, Highland Park, Linkwood, Amrut, and perhaps the majority of the malts I have tasted which were distilled before 1985. I am sure there are others, but these are ones I already know relatively well.

4 years ago 0

@RianC
RianC commented

@Victor - Interesting comment about folk not liking the modern barley notes much.

I find whiskys that have a strong malty presence, apart from (or as well as) peaty ones, are the ones that stand out the most.

Good e.g.s would be Benromach, Springbank, Clynelish, Arran and AnCnoc. All of those have a 'beery' like quality to them which I find extremely appealing. I have no idea about the type of barley they use but can say, from my experience, that whiskys that retain a strong barley/malty character are the ones I lean to.

I have two Bruichladdies waiting to be opened now and can't wait!

about one year ago 0

@RianC
RianC commented

@Victor - Just scanning the first link and note you have Bunnahabhain at the top of your 'Ma'am' list. I'd agree that was another very enjoyable 'malty' whisky; but it did seem to have lots of sherry influence along with a surprising amount of peat to my nose and palette.

I remember the figgy note from the uncorked bottle as it went down becoming sublime.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@RianC, yes, others have remarked on sherry in Bunnahabhain. I suppose that in the samples I have had I did not really notice the sherry, but did very much notice the malt.

about one year ago 0

@RianC
RianC commented

@Victor - I know Ralfy makes a big deal out of modern barley strains and how they can come across as, well, less than they used to be.

I can't speak for such older whiskies but if I may use a fruit and veg analogy: I used to live next to an organic green grocers and the quality in terms of flavour, smell etc was markedly different from supermarket, mass produced stuff.

I imagine the same thing with barley - locally grown, with care and ideally organic (as it would have been 'back in the day') would unquestionably give better/different results.

Such are the times that quantity over quality reigns, but it's promising to see some more forward thinking distilleries carefully selecting barley and highlighting this.

I do wonder though how much the stills have an impact on the 'maltyness' of the end product. Again i'd guess it's highly significant but I really don't have the inclination to dig my old chemistry text book out ;)

about one year ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@RianC, I am not saying that it is easy to do, but the best approach to comparing barley influence is to get the experience of drinking 6 or 8 of those unadorned malts bottled 30 years ago and observing the differences in how the barley comes across compared to today. I believe that you will have no trouble observing big differences between the past and present barley elements. Defining them, quantifying the specific influences, etc. is not an easy task, though. Do the old barley malts taste better as a group than those of today? For me the answer is a very emphatic "yes". If I were suggesting a malt to try to exemplify the malty genre it would be something like a 20 yo Liinkwood or Clynelish bottled between 1985 and 1990.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@RianC I don't know about barley but I do know that in the good old time of wine in the areas of Bordeaux and Bourgognre, they were using, as a fungicide, what they were calling a "bouillie" which was a mix of copper sulfate and either lime or baking soda. This is still used by some green grower. I am saying this only to dismantle some romantic view of what agriculture was in the past.

I do agree with you that the variety of barley is chosen mainly for its yield per hectare. Hopefully, leaders like Bruichladdich will show that quality could be a good investment. Of course, there will be many Marketing department that will try to fool us with that. Here is a link to an article that mention that quality is more important than variety. scotchwhisky.com/magazine/features/…

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC commented

@Robert99 - Good point, Robert. Older doesn't necessarily have to mean better.

@Victor - If I ever come across a whisky bottled in the 80s, but particularly one of those two, I will snap it up!

about one year ago 0

@RianC
RianC commented

@Robert99 - Will also add that the link you give draws an interesting conclusion: It's the quality of barley, not the strain, that makes the difference.

Kind of goes back to the organic point i.e. take two seeds from the same 'family' but force grow one with pesticides and the like and organically and carefully grow the other, and I'd bet you taste and see different results.

about one year ago 0

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