For our next review we have something that I can only describe as being pretty special. It is a travel retail exclusive and so if you want to try it then you had better get yourself a holiday booked and pick it up in duty free, or hope that you have a generous friend who is going away soon. This whisky comes from the Bruichladdich (Brewick-laddie) distillery on Islay, and is one of the distilleries newest releases. It is the Port Charlotte 2007 CC:01.
Around two miles to the south of the Bruichladdich distillery lies the small village of Port Charlotte, and the remains of a long closed distillery, Lochindaal Distillery. The Port Charlotte bottling of Bruichladdich is by way of a tribute to this distillery, which closed back in 1929, and is heavily peated, usually to around 40ppm (phenolic parts per million). The whisky which goes into this bottling is matured in the original stone warehousing that is located in Port Charlotte.
This particular bottling of Port Charlotte is the 2007 CC:01 bottling, which was a recent release to the travel retail sector. Fortunately, I was recently away on holiday and so was able to get my hands on a bottle (it’s so good I may have to go on holiday again soon…). Bottled at eight years old and at a whopping 57.8% ABV, this whisky really is a rare treat. Matured solely in casks made from French oak that have previously been used in France for maturing Cognac, it is a very interesting offering of a whisky indeed, so let’s get down to it.
The first time I tried this whisky I had to have a double take at the label, I couldn’t believe that it was 57.8% it’s just so soft and smooth (I hate using ‘smooth’ in relation to whisky, it’s such a stupid term, but this whisky just is!). Immediately you know that it is Port Charlotte, it’s got such a heavy and distinctive peat smoke to it and it is just glorious. Once you get past the smoke it is a quite sweet whisky on the nose, lots of sweet vanilla, toffee and fudge. And there is plenty of fruit in there too, dried apricots and mangos, green apples and sweet lemon. With time the influence from the French oak casks comes to the fore, lots of wood spice, ginger, cinnamon and cloves all burning as they float around in a shroud of peat smoke.
Wow, there’s a lot going on here, there are so many layers to this whisky, it’s constantly changing, very complex. If this is what the result of maturing whisky in former Cognac casks is like then sign me up for more! There is lots of vanilla, toasted oak and again a creamy fudge character, as well as this there is a cereal note that is a lot more prominent here. There is also a rich, sweet, fruity character, think dried tropical fruits; apricots, papaya, pineapple, all steeped in runny honey and lemon juice. All of this riding in on the back of a big punch of peat smoke.
The finish is long and full and very warming. The finish stays with you for what seems like ages, it’s so long and flavoursome. Again there’s dried fruits, vanilla sweetness and of course a gorgeous smothering of smoke.
For an eight year old whisky this has a lot of character, it is comparable to whisky twice its age! There has been some very, very good maturation gone on here and it shows in the product. I must confess that this is the first Cognac cask matured whisky that I’ve ever tried and it has definitely made me want to try more! There isn’t a lot I can say that is bad about this whisky, if anything at all. The only thing is that I wish this wasn’t a travel retail exclusive, I would love to be able to go out and buy another bottle if I could. I suppose though that this makes it an even more special whisky. If you are heading away on holiday soon I would definitely recommend stopping in at duty free to get a sample of this, if not a bottle (around £68), you won’t regret it!
Gary & Steven