Today’s Whiskies share many things. They are all single cask bottlings at cask strength, come from Islay’s Bruichladdich Distillery, have been distilled in 2007 and aged entirely in former wine casks. One is unpeated (Bruichladdich), two are peated (Port Charlotte). Let’s start with the former.
Scotch Universe Europa A 2007 10YO “Château Caladroy” (Bruichladdich, 67,8%): This one matured in a 1st-fill Château de Caladroy Wine Cask, a vineyard located in the South-East of France between the Pyrenées and the Haut Languedoc region. At first the nose has two distinct faces, which shall later combine to one harmonious entity. The one is the typical barley character of Bruichladdich with different grains and cereal, the other the fruity, red berries (strawberries & raspberries mostly) of the wine casks. As said above, after some time both merge to a lovely nose including additional notes of hazelnuts and milk chocolate. The first sip reveals a creamy mouthfeel, in which the “wine-face” dominates the “Laddie-face”. Alas, we now get even more fruits and berries (starting from the nose, add cherries, plums and brambleberries) and even hints of toffee. The finish is medium long with hazelnuts, milk chocolate and oranges. It’s a good one! I don’t like it quite as much as the German Whisky scene did/ does (take this review over here, for example) but it’s quite tasty stuff nevertheless. Most crucially, it is not as generic as these wine aged spirits can be from time to time.
Let’s move on to the Port Charlottes now…
A Dream of Scotland Port Charlotte 2007 10YO “Château Haut Brion” (Bruichladdich, 62,3%): We’ve already encountered A Dream of Scotland from the German Brühler Whiskyhaus, who are also responsible for the Rumdealer’s Selection bottlings, in the very first Whisky review this month. They’ve had some magnificent bottlings in the past, with a Port Charlotte from an Amarone cask leading the way (good lord, that one was good!). Now we have an Haut Brion, a highly respected vineyard from Bordeaux. Nose: A mix of cold, but not unpleasant tobacco and ash, warm, sandy notes as well as ripe brambleberries and raisins. Behind that hints of sulphate but not too much. Then plums, red grapes, chocolate, nutmeg and even citrus. That’s my cup of tea. Palate: Surprisingly sweet given that this is Port Charlotte. I get a fresh bonfire, dark raspberries, overripe strawberries and a mix of different nuts. These associations work quite well together and the cask really enhanced the Whisky and did not completely destroy (read dominate) it. Finish: Looong and ashy with the mix of nuts. Great stuff but from a previous tasting I know that it can get even better. A lot better 😉
A Dream of Scotland Port Charlotte 2007 10YO “Vosne Romanée” (Bruichladdich, 60,4%): Vosne Romanée is a small village with about 360 inhabitants near the French city of Dijon. However, the regions vines are world-class. And to take it away here: So is this Whisky! Nose: I’ve found berries in both previous Whiskies but forget about it, the berries are actually in this one! Moreover: Absolutely no alcohol. It’s ridiculous! Are we really in 60% territory!? Compared to the Haut Brion, there is not a lot of smoke here. Most of the notes can be attribute to the wine cask, which usually isn’t a good sign but here it is excellent. The sweetness, the spices, the fruitiness… it’s incredibly well-balanced. Later the ashtray and burnt caramel. At the palate, it might be even better. Dry and adstringent, with a totally different smokiness from the Haut Brion; we are inclined to believe that this is a different distillate altogether. Apricot jelly, bonfire and firewood, tannins. Amazing! The finish is not quite as long as that of the Haut Brion but comes with more layers such as the apricot jelly, orange peel and bonfire. I doubt Port Charlotte can get any better than this. Well chosen, Marco!