After last month’s rather staggering success of the two 1993 Macallan casks, we’re delighted to have another very interesting and desirable bonded cask of whisky up for auction. This time it’s a 2004 Port Charlotte. These Port Charlottes were sold back in 2001 – 2005 for what now looks like bargain basement prices. Very few of them have sold on the secondary ‘open’ market before, with most of the cask sales taking place privately before now. So this should be an interesting experiment to find mature, bonded Port Charlotte’s current market value. Below is my assessment of the cask’s current qualities. The sample tasted was drawn from the cask’s most recent gaging.
Port Charlotte 2004. Cask 969. Bourbon. Tasting Notes
Nose: Bonfire smoke, wood ash, lots of briny and dense coastal characteristics and tertiary notes of iodine, mercurochrome, TCP and ink. The medical and coastal characteristics are both powerful but in balance and the overall impression is one of good maturity and potency. This is a BIG Islay whisky. With a little breathing, there are some more typical farmyard aspects which I find typify many early 2000s Port Charlottes of this age. Notes of hay, silage, some drying seaweed, old rope and kelp. There is a sense of building and increasing complexity with time and air. With water: The farmyard aspects really come to dominate now. More earthiness, notes of bark, black olives and an eventual drift back towards medicine. Quite excellent!
Palate: The arrival is quite intense and brings with it a sense of incense and smouldering wood. This quickly passes to reveal some notes of lemon oil and lemon zest, vanilla cream, smoked fish and a broad spectrum of medical complexities. There is also an underlying spiciness that adds balance to the natural sweetness of the distillate. Overall the texture is quite fat and oily, there is a ‘meatiness’ about it which alludes to chewing smoked mussels in brine. With water: lemon juice, sea salt, fresh oysters and more of these briny aspects mixed with a nice olive oil quality. Perhaps some herbal aspects as well, suggestions of dried rosemary and more kelp notes.
Impressions: This is a well-matured Port Charlotte from a clean and nicely balanced cask which has matured the distillate well without ever overshadowing or dominating the spirit. There is a strong sense of distillery identity and a natural ‘charisma’ about the distillate. These triumvirate Port Charlotte qualities of seashore, medicine and farmyard are all present and nicely balanced which leads to a complex, intriguing and delicious dram. This could easily be bottled now but should also continue to improve quite comfortably for at least another 3-4 years in bond. I would expect it to show particularly well at around 18 – 20 years of age.
Auction Ends Wednesday 2nd August From 8 pm.
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