$$$ — 50% ABV — No Age Stated
Transparency is about as rare as sans-serif fonts in the whisky world. At Bruichladdich [brook-lah-dee], you'll find both of them (Akzidenz-Grotesk for the typography nerds). While Bruichladdich's history stretches back to 1881, its revival has seen a lot of changes — by which I mean very little has changed.
Confused? Stick with me a minute.
The branding is so modernized, so very streamlined that you might expect to see robots running the stills but among the unchanged Victorian-era machinery, there's only one lonesome computer to be found at Bruichladdich. While many distillers are switching to automation and large capacity, Bruichladdich's process is slow and involved and human; even the barley is locally-sourced. And this shows in the whisky, most of which taste like a minimalist haute-cuisine dessert: flawlessly expressing only a few choice flavors.
Port Charlotte is an ongoing project in peat and maturation carried out at the nearby namesake warehouse, which was at one time a distillery. Many drinkers don't know their beloved island single malts are often not matured by the Hebrides, but shipped to the mainland in steel tanks. Smoke-heads will be excited to hear this single malt is peated to a generous 40 ppm and matured and bottled right on Lochindall, Islay's largest bay.
Port Charlotte's taste pivots from a bakery oven to a spice tent to a camp-out, roiling as it goes. It's a scotchy scotch, complex and on point but removed of anything unpleasant or unnecessary: no iodine, no dampness. If you think the austere packaging is unbecoming of a single malt, try it yourself and see how well they match.