Port Charlotte is a wannabe reincarnated distillery project from Jim McEwan, the mercurial genius behind the new incarnation of Bruichladdich. The malts from the Port Charlotte project all date from since when McEwan took over. They are intended to be his peated expression and peated they are. The Port Charlotte series began with a 5 year old version (PC5) that quickly became legend. The next year the expression was six years old and was called PC6 and so on until 9. I've tried PC7 and PC8 and they are among the most powerful, intensely flavored spirits I have ever tasted. The PC8 is strikingly different from the PC7 on offer here - a more yellow color, more vanilla from the oak, a more mellow peat profile. My understanding is that each year is quite distinct. They are all very young heavily peated Islay malts bottled at a searing young cask strength.
The PC7 is golden with a rosy peachy blush. When the bottle is first opened the first few drams have a very odd nose of library paste, solvent, and pork rinds - even after 15 minutes in the glass. Over time (weeks) the interaction with air mellows the nose and the solvent fades away and the library paste becomes more of an old book aroma and iodine, (the pork rinds remain). It's an odd nose - and if that was the end of the story I wouldn't have fallen in love. Entry is explosive with bean and grain sweetness joining an intense honeyed smokiness and brine and kippers. The finish is intensely long with fresh sawn wood, smoke, sea and turf joining the honey grain and smoked fish and spirity heat. The explosion of flavors is unusually intense and I want more right away. However the mouth sear from the high proof makes me slow down and have a drink of water every 3rd or 4th sip. Early on this intense young cask strength heat made me tempted to put water in it. Doing so cuts the heat but also dilutes the intense sweet salty smoke intensity that wows me. I opt for interspersing sips of water to cut the fire in my mouth and take this whisky neat.
Ultimately - extraordinary. More densely flavored than any whisky I've ever tasted. The odd nose is forgiven in the face of the rich Islay malt flavor. Wonderful - but very very strong meat.