Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Bruichladdich PC6 (Port Charlotte)
Islay Single Malt Whisky
This is the second release in this highly collectible Port Charlotte Evolution series from Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte or PC6, and is finsihed in Madeira casks. We had its younger sibling yesterday and this one is already on fricking eBay. The makers have even decided to release 6 different collectible tins! Clever? Yes. Annoying? To some. But it's equally shitty that consumers are buying cases and unloading them on auction sites. That is terribly lame. What ever happened to DRINKING the stuff?
And it's £60?!? That is half the price of the new and unanimously worshipped Lagavulin 21. What is happening in the world of whisky? Consumers are more educated and taking more active roles in their understanding and appreciation of whisky than possibly ever before: more books are available/websites/blogs/active fora, tourism to distilleries is up, there are more Whisky fairs, etc. than ever before, more expressions from more distilleries, more more more. This can only be a positive, no? No.
Do new drinkers of Scotch whisky find the seemingly endless string of releases confusing and even intimidating? Yes. Do regular drinkers of Scotch whisky find the seemingly endless string of new packaging and new releases from distilleries a bit much at times? Certainly. And do new AND regular drinkers of Scotch whisky feel a little alienated by price? Yes. Without a doubt. Is whisky a drink or a status symbol(ask Mr. Chavez)? These are not general hypotheses from a disgruntled whisky lover. These are observations of expressed opinions of customers from Sweden to Saskatoon, from the front line of the whisky industry.
Pricing is working in two ways as we approach 2008: what I would call premiumisaturation and juvenile kitsch. We have new premium products from Chivas (Longmorn 16, Chivas 25, Glenlivet 25), dozens of vintages from dozens of distilleries, and new posh packaging with matching new price points. The entry-level Longmorn is now £50. Does a whisky have to be £50 to be good? No no no. Warehouses are being rummaged for old vintages and new 25year-olds are being launched here and there. All this while we keep hearing about a shortage of aged stocks...
"So let's turn them onto young whisky!" says marketing Mel/Melissa.
We have the successes of Adbeg Very Young, Still Young, and Almost There. Are we going to see Teeny Weeny Ardbeg or Ardbeg Neil Young? We have painfully young small runs of Bruichladdich (Port Charlotte, Lochindaal, and more to come, no doubt), Springbank (Hazelburn) and Edradour (Ballechin) available for <£60 a bottle. Are we going to be buying new make 'single still' Strathisla or Buckets o' Bunnahabhain soon? And it goes on and on until consumers are bored with cute ideas and immaturity... and then where are we? Whisky Loch? Or maybe we'll all be drinking bourbon. Or rum. Sure, the justification I have heard for higher prices on these collectibles is to deter or at least control the profit an individual might make in the reselling of these items in auction, etc, yet they still sell cases to single buyers. Why should anyone make money save the distillery on their COLLECT ALL SIX TINS campaign? !!!!!!! ?
I am only attempting to express a growing concern among whisky consumers that the flamboyant packaging, marketing, and media-attracting actions of a minority of the whisky industry could undermine the craft of the majority, sacrificing all the successes of recent years and assisting in the devaluing of the whisky sector. No matter how honourable one's intentions, inadvertently creating a lack of trust in any one sector of an industry can seriously damage the integrity of the perception of the sector as a whole. It takes years to earn credibility and seconds to lose it. I seriously believe that some of this whisky excitement needs to be tamed before the only customers left in the wonderful world of whisky are stamp collectors and old men and the distillers decide they need to close more Broras, Port Ellens, and Glen Mhors... which, of course, would be back where we started.
Bah! Semi-incoherent rant over. Let's drink this... this... this instigator! Big thanks to the gent who bought a bottle and opened it on the spot for us all to try. His impressions appear in quotes.
Lots of new make charm: oats, soft perfumy notes, smoke. A touch of spice. Water makes things more coastal and a touch of iodine, seaweed, or even maijuana weed, appear.
Prunes, salt, smoke a fruit. "Dried fruit, not the the point of Christmas pudding, but tasty. I am a massive fan of young whiskies." Buttery, sugary, crepes, the crispy, nearly-burnt bits in the finish. Salt stays on my lips for a very long time.
Scary how misleading the abv% was. Sure, it needed water, but no one guessed it was as high as 61.6%. Very approachable, but you have to a) like your peat and b) like 'em young. With time, this could be a real cracking drop, it is just that for me it needs more time in oak to build complexity and lose some of the pear-drop new make character.
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