Sunday, September 03, 2006


The first entirely new Islay whisky has been launched - the re-awakening of the long-lost soul of an extinct distillery. ‘PC5 Evolution’ is the first ever release of Port Charlotte single malt whisky, the heavily-peated whisky that is distilled, matured and bottled at Bruichladdich on the Isle of Islay.

It is the first single malt to be released that was distilled by the new owners of Bruichladdich, following the 2001 renovation of the once-closed distillery. Master Distiller Jim McEwan said: “From records we know that Bruichladdich spirit was influenced by peat - to some degree at least - before 1961. And at the same time this is paying homage, a doffing of the cap, to the old Port Charlotte distillery two miles down the road that closed owing to Prohibition in 1929.”

PC5 Evolution is bottled at an unusually high cask strength of 63.5% as the initial filling strength five years ago was 71% - more than the standard industry strength. Only a thousand cases are being produced, which means the price will be eye-wateringly high.

At 85 years old, islander
Ruraidh McLeod, then a distillery mashman, is the last man alive to have tasted the original Port Charlotte whisky: “I remember it well; we were called together to try it. It was a special event that called for a rare bottle. Sure enough it was very, very peaty; but it was as smooth as velvet.”

The Port Charlotte single malt of today was distilled with barley peated to 40 PPM (parts per million of phenols) making it one of the peatiest whiskies on the island. “It was the result of an incredibly slow ‘trickle distillation’” a specialty of Jim McEwan “to achieve maximum purity, flavour and texture.

And how does PC5 Evolution compare with the old? Ruaridh McLeod notes: “It has the same peatiness right enough, right enough. Och, its just as smooth as cow’s milk…

Professor Walter Schoburt, the first author and whisky expert to taste the new whisky, said: “What a whisky. First you get the peat, the wonderful, beloved aroma; then you feel that this is a whisky without edges. Incredible.