Travel retail typically gets a bad rap. And it’s from me as well, don’t act like I’m going to say otherwise. It’s typically used as a place where experiments that just didn’t make it belong.
However every so often a company puts something there that perks us up. Previously Bruichladdich Port Charlotte CC:01 was one of them, their peated (but not as peated as Octomore) offering that was finished in ex-Cognac barrels.
So when I saw an opportunity to purchase part of a bottle of Bruichladdich Port Charlotte MC:01, the newer travel retail Port Charlotte with this particular naming scheme, I took the chance.
But what has changed, save for one letter? Well, as someone who once asked a very attractive waitress for a side of corn and mixed up one letter, I’ll tell you it can make a huge difference. In this case, it’s been matured in ex-Sicilian wine casks, aka ex-Marsala casks.
But how does it taste? Was I bamboozled before by a travel retail exclusive unicorn? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Stated Age: 9-years-old
Cask Type: Marsala Casks
Colour: 10YR 6/10
Nose: Taffy, raspberry, salty roast corn, honey, algae
Immediately rich caramel and raspberry. It has this young, brine note, and water brings out more sweets.
Quite different than what I was expecting from a Port Charlotte. The peat has taken on this almost smoked-American-single-malt element to it. It really doubles down on vegetal aspects, while starting out more dessert-like.
Taste: Creme caramel, brine, raspberry, dead leaves, grilled beef
More caramel forward, creamy. Very caramel forward takes some time to pull that back. It’s like eating your meal backs on this one.
Salt works with it. The raspberry from the fortified red wine works with it. Debatable on the dead leaves and steak, but I don’t know your eating habits.
Finish: Anise, rich caramel, grilled asparagus, white cranberry, cinnamon candy, strawberry
Hey, something different, some spice…. Oh, wait, no. It’s that big caramel energy again. And more developed, complex versions of before. Dead leaves? Nah, grilled asparagus. Acidity? Nah, cranberry. Spice? Nah, cinnamon candy. Strawberry? Fuck you, strawberry is already great, you get that again.
Conclusion: Rich caramel forward. It never changes lanes from that, for better or for worse. On the upside that rich caramel is really, really nice unless you hate happiness. It works with the brine and the fruit.
On the worse side, there are some earthy elements that you should expect from Port Charlotte, and that’s no surprise. Where it throws you off is that big caramel and fruit and then… savoury.
So if you can get over that dichotomy, then it works. I couldn’t because I’m flawed and a garbage person (not really, it’s a joke). That said it’s certainly not something that was dumped in travel retail, and something to look for when flying.
Scotch review #1096, Islay review #295, Whisky review #1703