It Literally Exploded

23 Aug

I don’t write whisky reviews very often, but here goes nothing! This will be a competitive tasting of two different yet “identical” whiskies.

Summary: Two whiskies with same name and same age couldn’t be more different!

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte

Official Bottling

The Official Bottling is intense, smoky and wild. It’s not a subtle dram. The intensity of the age 5 was incredible — it was out of control — while the age 6 was subdued by comparison. In the 7, the intensity is back, but it’s smoother than the 5. The 7 is malty and salty, with a complex nose that I have trouble parsing. It’s quite overwhelming! The saltiness makes your mouth water. The nose isn’t as smoky as you’d think, and there are spicy notes like cinnamon and you can even pick out heather (well, my wife says you can…I never could say what that smells like!). The peat smoke really comes in on the finish, which is long and quiet. It’s like a campfire, after it has been doused, which is still warm and humid and reeking of charcoal, with an occasional crackle. Yummy!

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America’s bottling of the “same” spirit at the “same” age is the same thing. Only it’s so not the same. 🙂 I can see the resemblance, but: The SMSWA version goes to 11.

How are the two different? Well, it’s easy to see that they are different: The SMWS bottling is several shades darker in color! You can see that it was aged in a Sherry cask, as advertised. Oh, and It’s seriously smokey. I’m drinking this (and writing this) rather late in the evening and I am sure I’ll be enjoying the peat all day tomorrow. I might be imagining it, but it seems to have a thicker mouth feel. Or my tongue might be getting numb. The finish is possibly infinite; I’ll let you know in the morning. Oh, btw, I had to add water to this. It’s 66.6% (the number of the beast??). The OB was “only” 61% ABV.

You can really see how a single cask can be very different than the “blend” of different casks that the distillery usually marries together to make the final product. That blending probably accounts for the uneven progression from the 5 to the 6 to the 7.


My good friend Christopher Jew (@whiskywall) was kind enough to share 50 ml or so of this precious spirit. You can find a very entertaining review (aren’t they all?) over at WhiskyFun.


The title of this blog post indicates that there was an explosion. Well, sort of. When I received the sample from Christopher, I was at work, and I couldn’t resist the temptation: I didn’t taste it, but I had to open it so I could smell it. That’s when it popped. The little white disk inside the cap came flying off, and there was an audible “pop,” much to my surprise!

I didn’t have to get close to the bottle to smell it…the room was instantly filled with the smell of a wet smokey peat fire. And now, I’m going to sit here and enjoy the long finish. If you can find this dram, and if you enjoy smokey whiskies, I do recommend it.


I really enjoyed sitting up for the last hour, until after midnight, drinking whisky and writing about it. 🙂


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