The vineyard’s on fire! Yummy.
Even if you hated what’s actually in the bottle you can’t argue with the beautifully executed packaging. I won’t spend too much time extolling the virtues of the choice of materials or the attention to detail or the quite frankly menacing bottle shape and heft but it is a thing of real character and grace. Great design is a wonderful thing.
I’m not a big peat freak. You can keep the TCP-like dram, they always feel monotonous and one dimensional to me but... but. There’s always a but. Stick one of these smokey beasts into a sherry or wine cask and damn me if it doesn’t flick the switch. It is definitely the case with this Port Charlotte, time in some woody goodness from Mouton Rothschild and voi la! I’m transfixed.
On the nose it surges out of the glass. A little away from the glass and there’s the smoke, peat, matches, hints of sweetness and distant fruit. It’s obvious though that there’s more going on than a standard bourbon cask. Getting into the glass and KABOOM! 59.2% launches an all out assault on the nose. The wine cask is huge, red fruits, red licorice, peat, shoe polish, I swear I get a rose oil thing going on. Salty, vegetal with burnt sugar. Ash and more wine casks and menthol, balsamic reduction and Brasso metal polish. It doesn’t sound very nice but it’s just one of those dram that is actually great fun to nose for 20 mins.
In the mouth it’s just as energetic. It’s lovely and thick, greasy and warming. Whilst at nearly 60% it should be a little hot in the mouth it doesn’t appear to be. Initially sweet peat instantly is followed with rich black licorice and ash, burnt sugar and red fruits. It’s dark, rich almost chocolate like, a strange and wonderful amalgam of flavours.
With water it is transformative. Not only is the golden pinkness in the liquid more apparent but the fruits and wine and sweeter notes burst forth. Like a garden blooming, more peppery, creamy, lighter and more zingy. Still the lovely licorice note, still the warmness. More coal fire than camp fire. It’s very, very good. Watering it down further is interesting, things continue to open up and more fruits and garden notes with orchard fruits and bitter cocoa arrive.
For my first foray into Port Charlotte I’m pleased as punch. A baptism by fire but one worth taking.