17 year old Port Charlotte – which is almost as old as they come. This Sponge release has been matured in a 1st fill bourbon barrel and bottled at what feels like a natural 57.1% ABV. With only 220 bottles produced I don’t imagine this lasted very long -irrespective of the price that PCs seem to demand nowadays.
Nose: Vegetal and farmy peat smoke – somewhere between felt roofing, smouldering ferns and bracken and an arson attack at a petting zoo. Wet hay is joined by fir cones whilst sweet anise from Black Jack chews lifts the backbone of meatiness from studded ham. Rockpools and coastal cliffs sit with petrichor, ozone and a swipe of germolene. Dilution expresses vanilla-pipped buns, lemon posset and a shift towards sooty peat smoke.
Taste: Fulsome on the arrival with rendered pan fats delivery medicinal wipes, singed leaf mulch and plenty of mentholated oak. Earthiness is persistent with waterlogged fallen trees and damp soils along for the ride with musty cellars. A combination of lemon and pine (think Little Trees car freshener) sits with candied citrus peels and sweet maple charred wood smoke. The addition of water retains the body of the whisky – greases and oils, delivering a freshened experience of chopped apples, quartz sharpness, mezcal and sugared grapefruit segments.
Finish: Long with developing spicing from both pepper and salt. Peat smoke persists throughout – mentholated, alluvial and coastal.
My experiences to date with late teens PC indicate that it’s a distillate which when paired with a sympathetic cask can develop remarkable levels of complexity – despite retaining aspects of its ferocious peat influence. This Sponge edition Port Charlotte is no different in that regard – as broad as it is deep and expressing a raft of though-provoking aroma and flavour combinations. Peated whisky for grown-ups.