Port Charlotte PC10 Review

Port Charlotte PC10IMG_1085

59.8% abv

Score:  90/100


Tro Na Linntean.  Through the generations.  I like it.  Not because it’s yet another clever riff on Gaelic naming conventions (those seemingly being used on every second expression from the Scottish isles lately), but because it is actually meaningful in this case.

Just weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to have Bruichladdich’s Allan Logan come through town and host an evening for the Dram Initiative whisky club.  Allan is the distillery’s Production Director, aka ‘the guy in charge’.  He made whisky waves years back by becoming Scotland’s youngest distillery manager at the ripe ol’ age of 28.  With Jim McEwan’s retirement last year, Allan stepped up to lead the Laddie team into the next era.  This PC10 was one of the malts we poured for the club that night, and it allowed for a great opportunity for Allan to share the story of the ‘passing of the torch’, so to speak.  Indeed, his visage is even emblazoned on the tin packaging.  This whisky has his DNA all over it (figuratively speaking).  Y’see now how it makes sense that a malt would be named ‘through the generations’ when it commemorates a changing of the guard?  Neato.

More important than capturing a moment in time, however, is capturing a great whisky in the bottle.  And holy hell, did they ever.  All the ferocious might of the cask strength PC line is on bombastic full display here, but ten years slumber in the barrel has imparted a seriously impressive cohesiveness and softening influence.  Now, now, peatheads, rest assured this is no gentle giant.  It is just as huge as its forebears, but now bears the hallmarks of maturity and those sublime clean vanilla-infused cask notes we relish.  I can only imagine what Port Charlotte will be like at 15 or 18 years of age.  Hopefully Team Turquoise are sitting on some maturing barrels that have been earmarked for just this purpose.

Score:  90.  But you do know I’m an unapologetic peat-o-phile, aye?

Nose:  Earthy, downhome farmy peat and smoke, of course, but those are no-brainers in a PC.  Those familiar with the line will likely pick up that cola syrup sweetness meets butyric butteriness meets fairly assertive citrus (more lime than lemon?).  Now toss in some soft fruity notes (something reminds of grilled, caramelized pineapple).  Lovely, in other words.  A faint welly rubber note.  Ash and char.  It’s briny and seaside-ish and all that, but I’m a little surprised at the softer, creamier edge here.  Granted this is older than other PCs I’ve tried.  A touch of caramel and eucalyptus too.

Palate:  Bam!  Smoke and damp ash.  Sea water.  Lemon on smoked oysters.  Salt and pepper.  Oak notes are somewhat drying.  Some nice heavily toasted (read: almost burnt) pastry flavours.  You can taste the smoky malted barley (all sweet rich cereal, organic, smoky notes).  Salt licorice and green apple.

Thoughts:  Gorgeous.  A loooooong, slooooow sipping malt.  Take your time with this one.  Turn on a little ‘Soul Station’ by Hank Mobley, lean back and close your eyes.  Just…like…that.


 – Images & Words:  Curt

12 thoughts on “Port Charlotte PC10 Review

  1. Ricardo

    Agree with your score of 90 for PC10. These Port Charlotte PC bottles are great, especially if you like Islay whisky. Don’t know about the non-PC bottles as I’ve tasted only one which wasn’t bad but not up to the same quality. Waiting for PC13 which might show up late this year. Hopefully I’ll be around to taste an 18 YO.

    1. Jeff

      Maybe someone could correct me if I’m wrong, and older expressions probably aren’t out of the question (although they’ll probably be north of poison in price), but wasn’t the PC line (sort of the like the Ardbeg “very young/still young/almost there concept) supposed to deliver the spirit to the 10 y.o. mark as the standard age/expression? Just wondering. Still looking forward to cracking the PC9.

      As a crossover on another recent topic, does anyone have a preference on the Forty Creek Double Barrel vs. Barrel Select (although I agree with Skeptic that Confederation Oak is better than either)?

      On another topic, has anyone heard of a timeline for the CB/SWA discussions on transparency this month? Any opinions on Bruichladdich’s “transparency post purchase” stance (you can find out what’s in it, but only after you’ve bought it, coming with a bottle-code index in April)?

      1. Andrew

        With the Bruichladdich transparency, I’m fairly certain that it’ll be a code on the outside of every new bottle of the Classic Laddie, which you shouldn’t need to buy to see. You could probably do it from your phone in the store.

        1. Jeff

          “One thing we must make very clear however, is that Bruichladdich has no intention of breaking any laws. Recognising the restrictions imposed on us by current legislation, the information provided on The Classic Laddie bottle, packaging and advertising is not going to change. There is no intention to purchase advertising or to commission a marketing campaign to promote the fact that we are making this information available.

          We are not even going to publish this information in a form that can be accessed by a casual visitor to our website. The information will only be available in response to a request from a third party who has access to the batch codes, i.e. typically someone who owns a bottle of The Classic Laddie.

          When a batch code is entered into the proffered field on the product page of our website, the enquirer will be provided with the recipe pertinent to that vatting. The information will comprise the bottling date, the number of casks of each type used, the vintage, the spirit type and the cask type. We have no intention of publishing the batch numbers anywhere other than on the bottles.” – Simon Coughlin

          If the intention is to provide information only post purchase, where is the transparency (I can find out the mileage on this car only AFTER I buy it) or the “security” that only bottle owners have bottle codes? If the real upshot is the general pre-purchase revelation of the same sort of information that Compass Box was chastised for putting out anyway, what makes Bruichladdich’s method legal where CB’s was not? Whether you promote it or not? Coughlin’s idea of who will be making a “typical” recipe request seems pretty plastic.

          1. veritas

            I think they know very well that people who visit the store have smartphones and if they really want to they can get the info before buying.

            That’s good enough for me (though I’m not really keen on purchasing any in the near future…). I may try it next time I’m in the store.

            건배 !

          2. Jeff

            As per Scotchwhisky.com’s piece (https://scotchwhisky.com/magazine/news/latest-news/compass-box-transparency-breaks-eu-law/),

            “Cormack explained that, under Regulation 12.3 of the Spirit Drinks Regulation No 110/2008, any mention of a maturation period or age could only refer to the ‘youngest alcoholic component’ in a spirit.

            This rule applies to the ‘description, presentation or labelling’ of a spirit drink – including advertising, promotion and images.”

            If that’s true, then Bruichladdich might legally be in the clear, so long as it doesn’t advertise, promote or visually present product codes in the media. The question of where “promotion” ends and practical marketing advantage begins is in the eye of the beholder, and Bruichladdich’s lawyers must think that the program has valid legal defense, but it doesn’t really resolve the question of who is “supposed” to have access to these recipes – only the purchaser or, in the free market of competition, the potential purchaser.

            Still, no surprise that Compass Box and Bruichladdich are the first ones out of the gate with this stuff; their marketing people have been running rings around the rest of the industry for quite a while.

  2. kallaskander

    Hi there,

    hi Jeff,

    under the old regime of Mark Reynier and Jim Mcewan both the Bruichladdich and the Port Charlotte and even the Octomore have seen their coming of age with 10yo bottlings.

    But after the investors of the distillery sold out to Remy Cointreau everything has changed.

    The schedule and planing for the distribution channels of Bruichladdich were much too narrow for the distribution stream of Remy.

    In short for what Remy had in mind there was not enough aged malt. Remy cancelled almost all Bruichladdich whiskies with an age statement and replaced them with NAS-ty stuff. For a while there was the latest Black Art edition with an age guarantee but that is gone now, too.

    Everything else has been switched to NAS multi vintage bottlings. For a while they continued the Port Charlotte with a PC 11 and PC 12 in travel retail but I am not sure if they still exist. There have been travel retail exclusive Octomores as well.

    With the announcement of the Laddie Eight and the PC 2007 CC for travel retail I do not think it probable that age statement bottlings as we understand them will go on in travel retail with Bruichladdich.
    Even if the Eight is 8 years old.
    It seems the 10yo expresseions never made it to the USA?




  3. Ricardo

    There is a PC12 so I’m assuming they will keep coming but of course I don’t know that for sure.
    One thing I didn’t like was PC11 and PC12 being released only in travel retail locations, not sure about PC10. Would much prefer availability at normal whisky retailers.
    All the PC releases I have tasted have been excellent.

    1. Jeff

      Thanks for the info. I guess what I was getting at was the description of PC10 along the lines of Master of Malt’s: “The 10 year old Port Charlotte is the first of the PC bottlings to join Bruichladdich’s core range. It is a rich, smouldering dram distilled from malt peated to 40ppm.”

      Joining the core range sounds to me as if it’s to be a standard age offering going forward, although other older expressions might also be forthcoming.

  4. Ricardo

    The way Bruichladdich labels these Port Charlottes can be confusing. All the PCs such as PC8, PC10, PC12 etc. have been cask strength. Some Port Charlotte has been bottled at 10 years old but without the PC10 name so not at cask strength. Clear as mud?

    And no, as far as I can tell PC10 did not become part of the core range. All PC10, PC11, PC12 etc. have been limited release.

    I have followed Port Charlotte from the beginning, own many bottles and enjoy the dram very much. Not true of other Bruichladdich in general for me though.

    1. Jeff

      Yeah, it is an issue with confusing moves/messages, which is why I was wondering if a definitive answer existed anywhere. As per your last comment, I think the PC line has enjoyed more solid and sustained popularity than many other Bruichladdich offerings, which also might explain things if the company might change its mind on the line’s fate in the future.


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