2x Port Charlotte 2008, Head to Head once more

After the recent Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Head to Head, I decided to give these two Port Charlotte whiskies the same treatment.

Both are bottled by Dutch whisky clubs, one by 12 Barrels, one by WGM. Both are distilled in 2008, both on the 12th of November. Both were matured in a Bourbon barrel. The main difference is that they were bottled 2 months apart. Of course the difference in casks, even though they are of the same type, makes a huge difference. We don’t know much on the location in the warehouses they spent their time maturing, so that might have some influence too. Although I think that last factor is more something for the warmer climates. In Scotland, the warehouses are damp and cold in all spots.

Anyway, with yesterday being Bruichladdich Day on Feis Ile, yesterday seemed a good time to try both. Earlier wasn’t really an option anyway, since I got the WGM one in on Friday, and Saturday was game night (we played Terraforming Mars and Parks).

My assumptions were that these would be virtually the same whisky. I expected that even more than with the Jack Daniel’s ones from earlier. I was wrong…

Image from Whiskybase

Port Charlotte 13, 2008-2021, Bourbon Barrel 3194, 61.5% – 12 Barrels

A surprisingly light smokiness, with a focus on barley, straw and grassy notes. A minor note of salinity and peat. There is a sweet, woody touch as well. After a while there’s a note of coffee and the peat turns a bit muddy (if that’s even a thing…)

The palate is obviously sharp with an ABV like this. It’s also very dry with sharp notes of peat, freshly cracked black pepper and fresh chilli peppers. There’s smoke, still some grassy notes and some salinity too.

The finish keeps up the dryness. It’s remarkable in that regard. There’s quite some peat and smoke here. Sand and soil, marram grass.

A very straight forward and Port Charlotte, this one. A lot of dryness and a massive ABV, but with it being a bourbon barrel there’s enough maturity and room for the spirit to give the typical Bruichladdich profile. Lovely stuff!


Of course, with this stuff being very limited and bottled for a private club, it’s long gone. With Brexit it also took a long time to finally become available in The Netherlands for the cask owners too…

Image from Whiskybase

Port Charlotte 13, 2008-2022, Bourbon Barrel 3189, 62.6%, WGM Teaghlach

This one is just as gentle in its smokiness, but shows quite some notes of grilled lemon. Notes of white oak, barley and straw. Lemon balm and a bit of beeswax.

The palate is equally sharp, but this one brings some of that citrus fattiness, lemon balm and waxiness, to tone it down. The smoke is a bit more intense with that acidic, lemony edge to it. A strange combination of flavors.

The finish mellows quickly and leaves the lemony flavor, but the peat turns a bit ashy. Another interesting turn. There’s a slightly acidic milky note too, which strangely is a good thing. It’s a very obscure Bruichladdich thing, and I like it.

This is a very interesting dram. I like these milky, lemony flavors and it reminds me of a Bruichladdich by Archives from a couple of years ago that I really like too. It’s one that kept me coming back to taste again and again. The combination of the waxy, fatty notes combine very well with the peat and lemon, and keep the ABV in check, a little bit.


To me the WGM version has an edge over the 12 Barrels one. However, with both these bottlings clocking in at just € 75, they’re both very affordable. Neither is a let down and it just shows how a rather ‘simple’ maturation suits Bruichladdich’s whiskies very, very well.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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