The Port Charlotte single malt is creamy, malty, salty and smoky. Its flavour profile can change quite dramatically, depending on the casks used.
Bruichladdich focuses on the provenance of its ingredients. All of the barley used in production is grown in Scotland. Some is even grown on Islay.
Barley is malted by Bairds of Inverness. They use peat from a local bog to smoke the barley. As a result, Port Charlotte has a wood smoke character instead of the medicinal note associated with Islay whiskies.
Bruichladdich's narrow-necked pot stills produce a light, complex spirit.
Port Charlotte is matured in a variety of casks. American oak bourbon barrels are most common but wine and sherry casks also feature regularly.
Much of the spirit matures in warehouses that once belonged to the Lochindaal distillery. Some people believe the warehouses' proximity to the sea contributes to the coastal character of the whisky.
Bruichladdich had plans to build a new Port Charlotte distillery beside the remnants of Lochindaal. The project was abandoned when the business was taken over by Remy Cointreau.
The Port Charlotte range is bottled at 50% alcohol by volume as standard. Some special editions are released at full cask strength. Every drop is bottled without chill-filtering or artificial colouring.
The current core range consists of both 10-year-old and Islay Barley bottlings.
Bruichladdich was originally established in 1881 by the Harvey Brothers. It was created to service the booming blended Scotch industry.
The distillery has endured a tumultuous history with several periods of closure. As recently as the 1990s it was mothballed by Whyte & Mackay.
The site lay dormant until 2000 when it was acquired by Mark Reynier and Simon Coughlin of the independent bottler, Murray McDavid. With the help of industry veterans, Duncan McGillivray and Jim McEwan, the distillery was brought back to life. Under McEwan’s guidance, they began to produce a small amount of heavily peated spirit.
The Port Charlotte malt was named after a village that lies two miles from Bruichladdich. For 100 years, between 1829 and 1929, the village was home to its very own distillery. Lochindaal was closed by DCL in 1929 but some of its buildings still stand. The old warehouses are used to mature Bruichladdich's Port Charlotte single malt.
Production of the new Port Charlotte whisky began in 2001, with the first bottling released in 2006. It has since become a key component of the distillery’s portfolio, along with the Bruichladdich and Octomore single malts and The Botanist gin.
Bruichladdich was taken over by Remy Cointreau in 2012. The new owners oversaw a rebranding of the Port Charlotte malt in 2018. The relaunch saw the whisky packaged in a bespoke bottle that maintained the old Islay tradition of bottling whisky in dark glass.