At Bruichladdich they seem to be keen on the record of the peatiest malt – which is Octomore with ever higher ppm-levels in terms of phenol. As weird as it sounds, the less phenolic Port Charlotte tastes way peatier (and more complex) than the Guinness-Book dram. Here comes another comparison of the two:
Octomore 5 y.o. ‚Comus 04.2_167‘, Bourbon/Sauternes Casks, 18.000 btl., 61%
Nose: Octomore finished in Sauternes Casks (Chateau d’Yquem) – not as peaty and strong as the mere facts would suggest, the Sauternes is there from the beginning, having a calming and smoothening effect on the rough Islay dram altogether. These two worlds meet here and make it unusual: Islay (peat and bonfire smoke, tar, white pepper, hot chili, herbs, camphor, resin and fresh sea air) and d’Yquem’s Sauternes wine (apricots, peaches, apples, honeysuckle, toffee caramel, butter, vanilla, almonds and macadamia). The winey shoe fits, I think – in fact, this is one of the most intense Sauternes influences I had in a while. Daddy like 😉 !
Palate: The palate is a bit hot and nervous, mainly on herbs, peat and camphor, but in the back the grapey fruitiness hangs on, making it somehow voluptuous. No water needed.
Finish: Peat smoke, resin, burning embers, sulphur and chalk, then some of the wine’s influence. Quaffable stuff. But the very first edition was even better and deeper.
Port Charlotte 8 y.o. Malts of Scotland 14.12.2001 – 2.2010, MoS Bourbon Barrel 967, 220 btl., 60,2%
Nose: This one is weird at first, like a mentholated cigarette, or more like a peated Benedictine herb liqueur. Smells healthy to me, just like a chest rub. Definitely unusual. These first aromas take to the background after a minute, giving way to vanilla and the more typical PC character traits (oysters, peat, altogether rooty). Somehow this is really plant-like, THE gardener’s dram. The more you wait the more it becomes a son of Islay. Chalk, wet sheep wool, almonds, tobacco, citrus notes and pepper round it off.
Palate: This dram can’t be serious. Now it shook off all the Benedictine and healty stuff and tastes more like old Ardbeg (minus the iodine-tire-mix), I kid you not! Some dashes of water are needed. It is on the dry side, also reminscences of Port Ellen come to mind, but on a less complex level.
Finish: Late matchstick sulphur and chalky dark wood accompany the notes of the palate, very intense and lingering.