Who, exactly, was this Charlotte and what did she do to get a quaint Islay village, not to mention a whole series of well-regarded scotches named after her? A strong-footed mid-fielder for Wemyss United who scored that stellar, curving goal for the win over Askaig City FC in the ’46 All-Islay tourney finals? No. A mythical sea-sprite said to guide lost sailors safely home by waving towering bricks of smoldering peat over her head, thereby burning off the obfuscating fog? No…sadly, no. It turns out she was the wife of Lord Frederick Campbell, a nobleman and parliamentarian who at one time was the Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland, whatever that it is, and well-known throughout the Hebrides for his delicious pies (made that last part up). Lady Charlotte was not just another trophy wife for those social ladder climbing Campbells, she was a prolific author and wrote The Diary of the times of George IV which is still published today. She also, guessing from the picture below, had a thing for deer and liked nothing better than to feed them at dusk whilst reading from scrolls.
In honor of Port Charlotte’s strong ties to the distillery, Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte Series is heavily peated compared to most of their usual offerings and began with the PC5, a five year old, which was distilled in 2001, the first year of operation after the extensive renovation of the distillery. PC6 (a six year old, surprise, surprise) followed the PC5 and was itself followed by the PC7 and 2009’s PC8.
The Nose: A surprising, honeyed, slightly bourbon nose, ripe Bartlet pears. There’s a lot of smoke here, but not as intense or forward as I was expecting. It’s fireplace smoke from the next room over, very warm and inviting. A good, dirty peat smell as well…maybe there are some sock drying over that fire.
The Palate: Sooooo much alcohol and such strong medicinal peat hits right away, it would be overwhelming if not for the great balance of ripe, soft pears and honey. Both the peat and sweet just sort of bloom with a wonderful, viscous mouthfeel. Really delicious. Waves of rich smoke roll on and on, building towards the finish.
The Finish: Nearly perfect. Long with lush smoke and slightly bitter phenols.
Thoughts: Pretty damn impressive. I’ve been looking forward to trying this for some time and it did not disappoint. It is, in some ways, an exaggerated Islay, almost a caricature in that it’s so strong and peaty, but not in the cartoonish way the Octomore is. It’s big and bold, but also tempered by some really smooth sweet notes that are really well-integrated into both the nose and palate. A very rich, powerful, lush dram, surprisingly smooth and balanced for only 6 years old. I’m guessing this one is disappearing, perhaps quickly, so it’s well worth a glass or even a bottle if you see it around.
Port Charlotte PC6, Islay