We are escorted down a dark alley by a bouncer wearing a permanent scowl. Through a winding passage and behind a heavy door and we are inside The Art of Duplicity, somewhere in Cape Town.
The reason for the mysterious venue is the much anticipated re-release of Port Charlotte by the folks over at Bruichladdich distillery. Where previously the whisky was simply branded as “heavily peated” it now proudly bears a 10-year age statement.
Video messages from the distillers convey a dedication to the craft in a time-honoured tradition: real humans work around the clock to malt the barley and create the whisky without a single computer in the facility. The head distiller, Adam Hennett, speaks of his desire to create a whisky that carries a sense of heritage and the place where it is created. This commitment is borne out by the lengths the team goes to in bottling and maturing their whisky on Islay itself; an unusual practice on the tiny island.
Brucihladdich evangelist Caitlin Hill says she chose the speakeasy as the launch venue for PC 10 for the ethos it shares with the Islay distillery: they both do things in their own way, regardless of what modernising trends might exist around them.
Bottled at 50% ABV PC 10 arrives with a high alcohol presence on the nose, and some heat is to be expected. There is a prominent, but defined, peat component and some TCP. Behind these is a pleasant sweet pork note, with first-fill bourbon barrels providing vanilla and marshmallow sweetness. Milk chocolate follows with a distinct oiliness that coats the palate.
A quick return to an older bottling of the non-age-stated Port Charlotte (2017) would seem to confirm suspicions that – fortunately! – the recipe hasn’t changed much, if any. This is the Port Charlotte we know and love!
With a launch price of R1200, Port Charlotte 10 sits in the premium category of Islay malts – but the quality of the product will mean it finds its way into more than a few home cabinets. Cheers!