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Whisky Reviews

Taste Testing Port Charlotte's Oldest Whisky To Date: Port Charlotte 18 Years Old, 54.3% ABV



For Islay malt fanatics, Port Charlotte needs no introduction. It's Bruichladdich Distillery's heavily peated expression, a dram that dials the island's signature smokiness up to eleven. There's the flagship Port Charlotte 10 Years Old that benchmarks the bold Islay character, alongside limited edition expressions like the terroir-foward Islay Barley edition that uses 100% Islay-grown barley, and Cask Exploration Series expressions like the Port Charlotte MRC:01 and OLC:01 that showcase the influence of maturation in a range of less usual casks.

Now, the Port Charlotte 18 Year Old marks a milestone as the oldest release in the core range. It's made entirely from Scottish barley, true to Bruichladdich's ethos, and showcases that signature 40ppm peated spirit. It’s matured in 74% refill sherry casks, with the remaining 26% in refill French oak with a limited outturn of 6000 bottles. Got a taste of this dram thanks to the good folks at The Single Cask Singapore!

Let’s give this a taste.

Port Charlotte 18 Years Old, 54.3% ABV – Review


Nose: There's no mistaking this – ash, pepper and tropical fruits. Opens with a heady mix of ashiness and intense sweetness. The smokiness is bold and upfront, yet with a core of overripe bananas and grilled pineapple adding a tropical counterpoint. Some darker fruity depths of dried plums along with a subtle, bucolic barnyard note, even hints of gasoline and a Springbank-like meatiness that lurk beneath the surface. This noses like a really well-aged Scotch.

Palate: Continues with the ashy and sweet theme, with the whisky coating the mouth with a nice oily texture. Opens with fresh honey and pear juice balanced by a sharp citric zestiness of lemon flavoured Warheads hard candy. This evolves beautifully, revealing vanilla, caramel and some maltose candy. This is superbly layered, and there’s always something new to find when you return to it. As the flavours evolve and unfold, the aromatic ashiness remains a constant, playing off the other elements rather than overwhelming them.

Finish: Long and lingering, showcasing fresh herbs like peppermint and thyme with traces of coastal salinity, alongside a peppery warmth and hints of baking spices, tobacco, and rich espresso grounds.


My Thoughts

This dram is complex and impressive, really layered with a distinctly old-school Scotch feel. Very well-integrated interplay of ash and sweet fruits, the fruit elements are exceptionally well-defined and layered.

It is a smoky dram but, it seems more balanced compared to the untampered pepperiness and smokiness of the Port Charlotte 10 Years Old, or the more medicinal smoke bomb of a Lagavulin. It's easily one of my top attainable Scotch whiskies I’ve tasted in a while (by attainable I mean it isn’t as rare as a Springbank), and is a hopeful sign for the future of Scotch. Highly recommended, if you can find a bottle on either Bruichladdich.com or a retailer in your country!

My Rating: 8.5/10

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.