GUEST TASTING NOTES: Port Charlotte MRC:01 2010 (59.2%)


The following notes have kindly been uploaded by Jonathan Stephenson, @Jonnyraccoon1. You can follow Jonathan on Twitter, using the button at the bottom of this post.

Type of whisk(e)y – Whisky (scotch).

How long has the whisk[e]y bottle been open? – Under 1 month.

Introduction to the whisk[e]y (casks used, distillery, is it a special release etc) – The second release in Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte Cask Exploration Series, the MRC 01 bottling was matured for a total of 7 years. 50% in first fill American whisky casks; 50% in second fill French wine casks. These were then combined and spent a final year in “wine casks from the Bordeaux left bank”, casks that definitely had nothing whatsoever to do with Château Mouton Rothschild.

Natural colour; no chill filtration.

Appearance – Tawny. Viscous in the glass, long legs. No visible cloudiness until water is added.

Nose – Soft, even a bit shy to begin. Zero alcohol knock-back despite the high abv. Soft, fresh, zesty, fruity, cask forward, winey – after a few moments a touch of salty sulphur begins to creep out. Then comes smoked barley grains, crispy fried honey-glazed bacon. A background note of real sea air, with bonfire on the breeze, all mingling with the fruit notes.

Chopped strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, red grape skin, some tangy lime jelly. And a deeply sugary sweetness akin to white chocolate/condensed milk.

Behind and throughout all this, there’s also burnt hay, even something approaching a floral, faintly grassy note that lends added complexity. A touch of menthol, or perhaps a lightly medicinal peppermint. It’s all quite inviting. Give this nose some time and it really expands into something rich and complex, despite the slow start.

Palate – No slow start here, this is a rich and punchy arrival filled with tangy raspberry, blackberry, strawberry. There’s glacé cherry in there from the bourbon casks. Pear and even some melon. Oily, buttery texture, with again almost no alcohol kick despite the proof. Then the peat arrives, carrying salted bacon with it. There is a good deal of sweetness but it’s never cloying or off-putting, balanced as it is with the savoury notes. There is toasted oak wood, wood smoke, warm peat, seashore salinity running throughout. Getting into the development there are dry spicey wood tannins, moments of tobacco and almost bitter red wine notes.

Adding a dash of water actually wakes up some of the alcohol burn, adding some more direct heat and spice to both the nose and palate. Once this subsides, the flavour profile in the nose and the palate doesn’t alter very much, the same complexity is still there, possibly muted a bit (but that could be the added abv kick covering stuff up). Honestly, for me, neat is the way to go with this one.

Finish – Long and satisfying, but surprisingly not quite as complex as the main body. Full of wood smoke, briney peat, wine cask tannins, some bruised blackberry and a bit of sweet tea . Perhaps a faintly medicinal edge.

The Empty Glass Smell: Still plenty left, oily residual peat smoke and lingering dark fruitiness.

Overall thoughts – This feels distinctly like a spring/summer dessert whisky. It’s certainly one of the most fruit-forward peated drams I’ve tasted, while still retaining a characteristically hearty Bruichladdich peat profile. If you enjoy wine/peat combinations this is a lovely, fresh, welcoming dram. It may take some time to get going but it’s worth a bit of patience. My only complaint is the slight drop in complexity in the finish, but that’s if I’m subjecting this dram to a bit of nit-picking.

I recently tried a sample of the subsequent cask exploration series, the OLC:01. Comparing the two is perhaps a touch redundant considering the marked difference in the casks used; however, if I were forced to, it would be difficult to say which of the two I’d prefer. The OLC is certainly heavier, more tannin-forward, darker, meatier. I would stop short of saying it’s more substantial though; both the MRC and the OLC have heft and complexity aplenty and both make for a satisfying sipping experience.

Overall, if you enjoy Port Charlotte 10 and you’re looking for an interesting expansion on its flavour profile, I’d recommend seeking this out. If this is difficult to track down, the OLC will provide a similar sensory journey, if in a different direction (and of course the PAC has has now hit the market but I haven’t had a chance to try that one yet, so I can’t advise either way!). Even at almost twice the price of the PC10, if I come across another bottle of this I suspect I’d buy it again.

Very glad I picked this one up.

Many thanks to Johnathan, @Jonnyraccoon1 (Twitter) for submitting his tasting notes, as comprehensive and informative as usual.

Find Johnathan on Reddit here

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