Review: Port Charlotte 12 Years Old 2003 127.44 Cantina Mexicana

Category: Islay single malt scotch whisky

Origin: Bruichladdich Distillery

Bottling: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Cask 127.44

ABV: 56.9%

Cost: £120 for Members, £240 for non-members from SMWS

What they say:

Not only does it look lovely in the glass – a wonderful deep amber colour – but its aromas manage to fill the room before I’ve even begun nosing. The powerful nose transports me to the ‘The Great Outdoors’ – campfires and their dying embers on an autumnal evening – commingling with fresh pine needles on a warm breeze. Campfires became BBQ’s – smoked pork, Manzanilla olives and a leafy rocket side salad with a balsamic dressing.
cantina_mexicana_label
Patience before feasting eventually reveals a clandestine sweetness – toasted almonds, rock candy and salted Moffatt toffee reveal the cask’s heritage.

On the palate it was smoke pork, especially pork scratchings – initially crisp, salty and dry. The BBQ smoke and nutty sweetness of the nose is mirrored in the palate though tasting transforms the nose into a more perfumed, floral, sherried character.

It becomes incredibly salty and maritime – smoked salmon and rock salt on board an old trawler. Despite the hubbub of the fireside camp found in the nose, the palate is deceptively mild-mannered and like the perfect dinner guest, regales and entertains without overstaying its welcome. The finish is peppery and rich, with cinder toffee, chocolate, liquorice and peppered steak.

If you don’t make it to this year’s Feis Ile, then one sip of this whisky does a very good job of transporting you there.

Name: 127.44: Cantina Mexicana
Age: 12 years
Cask type: Second fill Oloroso butt 
Region: Islay
ABV: 65.9%
Outturn: 588 bottles
Price: SMWS members: £120, non-members: £240

127.44: Cantina Mexicana will be released for sale at Islay House Open Day on 20th May 2016. You will also be able to purchase the bottle via smws.com from Thursday 26th May and in UK venues from Friday 27th May.

What I say:

Many thanks to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society for providing a review sample of this #FeisIle2016 special bottling. This heavily-peated (40ppm) ‘Port Charlotte’ distilled at Bruichladdich Distillery in 2003 has spent 12 years maturing in a 2nd Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt giving it a wonderful depth of both peat and sherry influences resulting in a powerful dram indeed!

Colour:

Dark amber bronze (12/20), fine slow forming tears leave fine legs, a little oily

Nose:

Tarry ropes and polished mahogany wood instantly transported us to the decks of a Spanish galleon at sea with briny sea spray and sun-soaked wood, deep and dark fruity notes and an undercurrent of peat smoke spoke of a cargo of waxed and candied fruits, candied peel, dates, figs and damsons, sweet and jammy almost, a wisp of cigarette smoke some raspberry balsamic vinegar and treacle toffee led into carbolic coal-tar soap with a hint of lavender and sandalwood too, all the while a rich malt cereal barley was present with a subtle sweetness like wheatgerm & honey soap.

Taste:

Thick and sugary in mouthfeel, treacle and tarry with some spiced chilli and pepper heat which mellowed into a rich meaty and malty mixture like marmite & bbq pork spare ribs, satay beef, aniseed balls, fennel seed, a touch of eucalyptus, salt liquorice and fishermen’s friends all in the mouth at once!

Finish:

Long, tarry smoke, malty & meaty marmite ribs

Overall:

Dark and tarry this took me back to my youth and hazy memories of sunny days when it was so hot the road tar would melt and bubble and we would pop them and play with the molten bitumen on old ice-lolly sticks. A meal in a glass this one but with a lot going on – a veritable cauldron of rich meaty, malty, smoky flavours with a smattering of sherried fruit. What a great selection for Feis Ile 2016!

Score: 89/100

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