Google Port Charlotte vs. Octomore Islay Barley

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

October 6, 2014


Port Charlotte vs. Octomore Islay Barley

I had first planned to oppose Octomore Scottish barley to Octomore Islay barley, but I’m not sure trying to spot differences in whiskies that were distilled from super-heavily peated barley (200+ppm) in super-high stills, just because the terroir was different, makes much sense. So let’s rather try this…

PC Ilay

Port Charlotte 'Islay Barley' (50%, OB, 2014) Four stars and a half A very brand new bottling of Port Charlotte. Colour: white wine. Nose: writing that this noses like ‘a distillery on Islay’ would be an euphemism. In fact, it’s exactly like smelling a handful of kilned malted barley. And far behind that, in the distance, touches of wholegrain bread, ashes, coal smoke and a drop of clairin. You know, that Haitian white rum. A little petrol, perhaps. With water: straight, clean zesty, smoky, uncomplicated, to the point. And always this lovely bready side. Mouth (neat): speaking of clairin, there are indeed notes of big fat white rum in this, then more kippers, almonds, ashes and liquorice. And just one drop of lemon juice. Maraschino. A little acrid, but I like that. With water: full, vivid, clean, ashy, smoky. A great distillate. Finish: long and brinier. Comments: a wine malt. Character, essence, location, belonging. A ta santé, Mark. SGP:457 - 88 points.

Octomore 5 yo ‘Islay Barley – 06.3’ (XX%, OB, 2014)

Octomore 5 yo ‘Islay Barley – 06.3’ (64%, OB, 2014) Five stars 258ppm, if that rings a bell. The barley comes from John Brown’s farm at Octomore, so this baby’s akin to a ‘chateau’ in Bordeaux. In a way… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not the first time I find Octomore rather less peaty/smoky than Port Charlotte on the nose. It’s less expressive for sure, probably more mineral, and certainly a little earthier. Maybe my mind is playing tricks to me, but I’m kind of smelling whiffs of damp peat (which doesn’t smell much anyway, agreed.) Sour apples, moss, leaven (big)… With water: a cow stable! Enough said. Really, this smells like ‘at the farm’. Mouth (neat): less a feeling of ‘swallowing an ash tray’ than in earlier Octomores, but indeed this is very ashy. Those smoky ashes combine well with a sharp lemony side, creating a very clean feeling of smoked lemon-marinated dough. And then, some lovely notes of gentian. Hold on, gentian on Islay? With water: excellent. More than a stunt, really, and much more than an attention-grabber. I find this just superb and up there with the best mezcals or clairins. Finish: extremely long, with notes of caraway this time. And more smoke than from a double-corona. Comments: a distillate that has guts, if I may. Cojones. I know, I know… SGP:369 - 90 points.







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