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As with every Port Charlotte the starting point is rich, elegant and thought-provoking spirit. High-provenance, smoky, heavily peated barley married to our slow, Victorian, trickle distillation delivers power with finesse. Here, this fascinating spirit has been matured full term in casks of finest French oak [Quercus robur]. They previously held one of the greatest Eau de Vie, from the western Cognac region.
Character – It’s Port Charlotte, but not as we know it. the spirit of adventure is alive with a wonderful marriage of Port Charlotte spirit with its classic Islay DNA and truly exceptional casks from the heart of France.
Colour – Rose gold.
Nose – The DNA is Islay. Peat smoke and salt spray collide with the fruit and complexity of our classic spirit. poached pears, vanilla fudge and sweet apricots. Toasted oak and lemon barley sugar notes rise from the glass as it warms in your hand. As it breathes the whisky will release festive, warming aromas of cinnamon, ginger and more rich vanilla.
Palate – Irresistibly complex. This dram has layer upon layer of subtle fruit flavours so characteristic of our spirit wrapped comfortingly in the blanket of peat smoke. Yet there is a new dimension to this next release of Port Charlotte. A depth of character that comes from the years of maturation in ex cognac barrels. We have watched the spirit mature slowly over the last eight years to become a beguiling spirit that shows our spirit of curiosity and adventure is alive and well. This spirit has taken us down many paths and this particular journey has come to fruition with a spirit that is a joy to taste. The wonderful french oak gives vanilla and spice and has brought this heavily peated Islay spirit to maturity with a class and finesse beyond its years.
The fruit is rich and sweet – apples apricots and plums – as is the barley sugar and lemon honey notes that reassure you this is an Islay spirit matured in our warehouses under our watchful eye.
Finish – This whisky stays on your mind for longer than your palate and it stays on your palate for an age. Floral heather honey, zesty lemon and a nutty smoothness settle with the peat smoke that is always last to leave you. A truly astonishing whisky.
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It started with our friend ‘Demolition Dave’ helping Duncan McGillivray and his gang to demolish the old Inverleven distillery – buying up all the old equipment for scrap and loading it onto barges on the Clyde. All so Duncan had some spares to keep Bruichladdich running in the days of No Money.
As this odd flotilla was being towed round the Mull of Kintyre and up to Islay, Laddie MD Mark Reynier received an email from the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in the USA who had been monitoring distillery webcams on the grounds that our processes could have been ‘tweaked’ to produce the dreaded WMD. ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’.
Never one to allow the opportunity for a good story to pass him by, or to get his beloved distillery in the news, Reynier embellished the tale, which soon grew to involve spies and the CIA and visits by weapons inspectors. All of which made great headline-grabbing copy in the febrile media atmosphere then prevailing around WMD.
One of the stills from Inverleven was dutifully set up outside the old Victorian buildings, and became an iconic sight, with a pair of Duncan’s old wellie boots sticking out of the top to represent those weapons inspectors searching for dangerous chemicals deep in its copper bottomed interior.
A special bottling was commissioned (of course) and dubbed the ‘Whisky of Mass Distinction’ (geddit?) and much hilarity ensued. At least among the Laddies, the rest of the whisky industry having long since given up on the noisily irreverent rebels.
Things were about to get even more eccentric because, shortly afterwards, Islay fisherman John Baker was heading home to Port Ellen when he spotted something awash in the sea off the bow of his boat. Being a resourceful man, he attached a rope to said object and towed it into the pier where Gordon Currie lifted it out of the water. It proved to be a very beautiful yellow submarine.
Very conveniently, the yellow vessel had ‘Ministry of Defence’ and a telephone number stencilled on it, which was of course immediately called. What happened next was to become the stuff of legend. He was connected to the Royal Navy. “I have found your yellow submarine” said John. “We haven’t lost a yellow submarine” said the Navy. Which was an odd response as the evidence to the contrary was overwhelming.
John and Gordon then loaded the submarine onto a lorry and took it to a secret location in Port Ellen (actually fellow fisherman Harold Hastie’s back garden). The local newspaper was called, then the nationals, and the following day the red-tops were full of pictures of the two friends astride the lethal-looking machine, carrying fishing rods, and asking: “Has anybody lost a yellow submarine?”
Hilarious… unless you were the Royal Navy – who did eventually admit to it being theirs. HMS Blyth, the minesweeper that lost it, eventually came to pick it up, slipping into the pier at dawn to winch it aboard. By that time, Bruichladdich had (of course) commissioned another bottling, WMD2: The Yellow Submarine, and a box of lovely liquid was graciously offered, and accepted by the captain as a goodwill gesture.