Port Charlotte 10 has triumphed in The Whisky Exchange’s annual tasting, taking the top spot in the only official blind whisky judging undertaken by members of the public.
Islay distillery Bruichladdich won the tightly fought battle in the annual Whisky of the Year blind tasting by specialist spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange. Their 10-year-old expression – a heavily-peated, rich and spicy whisky lives and breathes the distillery’s ethos that Islay whisky should express the aspects of the island’s character, from rich smoke to bracing sea breeze.
Six whiskies went head to head after they were nominated by global customers of The Whisky Exchange, with more than 2000 putting forward their favourites. The blind judging of the most popular was opened up to the world via the Whisky of the Year Perfect Measure Judging Set and online voting on 22 September. The sets were very popular with customers, selling out online in less than three weeks and resulting in more than 500 votes cast!
Starting with a blind tasting led by Dawn Davies MW at Virtual Whisky Show in October and continuing in the weeks after, whisky-loving consumers were encouraged to critique each whisky for nose, palate and finish, and select a first and second choice via the online voting form.
All whiskies in the tasting were under £65 retail price, and all ongoing, commercially available releases.
In addition to the winner Port Charlotte 10, the shortlist included:
Runner Up: Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 14 Year Old
Port Charlotte whisky is a joy to create. The spirit is versatile and approachable, offering an alternative to the traditional Islay style, it’s a softer, heathery style of smoke.
I’m delighted to have the Port Charlotte 10 recognised by The Whisky Exchange as Whisky of the Year – it’s a testament of the commitment and passion our Islay team put into every bottle.
– Adam Hannett: head distiller of Bruichladdich Distillery
The aim of the Whisky of the Year competition is to make excellent affordable whiskies known to all spirit-lovers around the world. Port Charlotte is an exceptional rich and smoky whisky with a maritime tang – a worthy winner of the title.
– Sukhinder Singh: co-founder and owner of The Whisky Exchange
This year, the company wanted to recognise other drinks categories and has introduced Rum and Gin Of The Year alongside the Champagne of the Year – the fourth year it has been awarded. Each category has been nominated by industry experts and staff at The Whisky Exchange based on their quality and value for money.
This year’s winners are:
Gin of the Year 2021 : Lind & Lime Gin
Rum of the Year 2021 : Mount Gay XO Triple Cask Blend Rum
Champagne of the Year 2021 : Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne
All of The Whisky Exchange ‘Of the Year’ winners are given a dedicated landing page on thewhiskyexchange.com for the year to showcase the producer and the bottling, while customers can watch out for special offers online and in-store ‘Of The Year’ tastings!
The Whisky Exchange kindly sent me the six samples to try (Thanks @WhiskyExchange!) so I got a chance to sample them and make my own voting choice.
So, what did I think? Here are my tasting notes …
Tasting Notes – A (45%)
Nose: Cane sweetness, toffee apples but this dram is slow to give up it’s flavours. After a time they fill the glass nicely – especially creamy toffee!
Palate: Smooth and sweet toffee, fruity, slightly tropical.
Finish: Tasty spice which is not too powerful. There’s a little grapefruit at the end.
Overall: Good abv and very easy to drink!!
Tasting Notes – B (43%)
Nose: Apples, tropical fruits, slightly cakey, toffee, slightly peaty as well with some furniture polish. Gives of itself quickly!
Palate: Shades of peaty smoke and tropical fruits.
Finish: Chilli spice, fruit, more apple with a short finish.
Overall: The smoke was a surprise – dunno why!
Tasting Notes – C (46%)
Nose: Smoke n’ peat, not too heavy – very nice! Sweet wood and quite coastal.
Palate: Cane sweetness, smoke, peat, slightly antispetic – gorgeous!
Finish: very smooth with just a smidgeon of pepper at the very end – which is long.
Overall: Fireside sipper when the winds howling outside – so that no-one can hear you pouring another dram!
Tasting Notes – D (46%)
Nose: Dark rich chocolate, molasses, sherry and toffee.
Palate: Rich toffee and vanilla. Sherried fruits, chocolate with hints of orange.
Finish: Breathtaking spice and richly fruited.
Overall: Slow to develop but certainly worth the wait!
Tasting Notes – E (50%)
Nose: Smokey with treacley peat, salty and coastal.
Palate: Sherbet sweetness, smoke, charred wood and peat.
Finish: Intense spice but still very sweet – quite unusual! Long finish.
Overall: A tasty dram that is the sum of two very different halves – but better for it!
Tasting Notes – F (43%)
Nose: Tropical fruits, furniture polish, plasticine, leather. Smoke gradually grows at the back.
Palate: Tropical sweetness paired with smokey fireside flavours!
Finish: Peaty with sweetness added.
Overall: A classy dram that doesn’t dissapoint.
So, which ones did I vote for?
MY FIRST CHOICE VOTED FOR WAS: D
MY SECOND CHOICE VOTED FOR WAS: E
And, the actual drams were:-
Whisky A – Nikka Coffey Malt
Whisky B – Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old
Whisky C – Kilkerran 12 Year Old
Whisky D – Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 14 Year Old (Runner-Up)
Whisky E – Port Charlotte 10 (Winner)
Whisky F – Lagavulin 16 Year Old
YaY! I nearly got it right – just the wrong way round!