Aka ‘Student Party Aftermath’.
Ok. By now you know it as well as I do: I am an unrepentant peathead. It should come as no surprise that a frighteningly huge young whisky from Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte line would score high in my books.
This bottle isn’t really a Port Charlotte or Bruichladdich release though, of course. It is an SMWS ‘numbered-not-named’ bottling. The SMWS, as you likely know, is an independent bottler/members-only whisky club. They source casks, sex ’em up a bit, add a dash of flamboyant wit and turn out some of the most aesthetically pleasing (to my eyes, at least) bottles on the shelves. For this, their 26th cask of Port Charlotte, they really managed to score a winner.
Port Charlotte has never really been a brand for the faint of heart, and this lumbering beast is arguably the most extreme representation I’ve seen yet, tipping the scales at a monolithic 65.5% abv. This is an absolutely enormous whisky. One of the biggest I’ve ever encountered, in fact. It sorta leaves me wondering how the hell this abv is even possible. I’m pretty sure Bruichladdich casks their new make at 63.5% (like most distilleries), and Scotland doesn’t exactly boast the sort of climate that leads to a higher water than alcohol evaporation rate from the barrel like some of the more temperate locales. Hmmmm….curiouser and curiouser.
Independent Port Charlotte releases are relatively few and far between. This is primarily due to two factors, I think. One…that it’s still early days for this whisky (just about a year ago we finally saw a ten year old variant), and two…the ongoing whisky boom makes the idea of selling off barrels to independents much less appetizing to distilleries who could likely do better bottling and peddling their own juice. This makes it a bit of a treat to find an expression like this 127.26. Independent bottlings often help show us a sort of ‘celebrity-without-the-makeup’ view of the malts we love. It allows a different appreciation.
Enough natter. Suffice it to say, this is good whisky. More than good, actually.
Nose: To quote the great Billy Connolly: “Jesus suffering f*ck!” Smoky, peaty and earthy. Licorice and lapsang souchong tea. Rubber and road tar. Quite intrinsically sweet too. There is some wax and citrus fruit. Some hard candy sweetness as well. Slightly farmy and some of that Port Charlotte buttery character. Camphor-like medical notes and a deep thread of thick, dark vanilla. Bundle it all together though, and what it really smells like is the most ferocious Mike Tyson uppercut distilled and bottled.
Palate: Oh wow, what an attack. Phenols from hell. Feels bigger, smokier, peatier than any Octomore I’ve ever sparred with. Under-ripe Granny Smith apples. Lime Jolly Ranchers. Ashtrays (I imagine, though I’ve never licked one). Oaky, toothpick notes. Slightly meaty…like a peppered salami maybe. Salty and licorice-like again. Sen-sen would be the closest parallel. The finish lasts longer than a Viagra-induced….errrr…you know what I mean.
Thoughts: I had an absolute blast doing this one. Wish I had 6 or 8 bottles of this sitting on a shelf somewhere for future days. Sadly, not so. Not necessarily a balanced whisky, but who the f*ck cares?! It is quite deep, though, with a myriad of swirling flavours though. One of the best PCs I’ve ever tried. (Feel free to slightly correct the score above to accommodate my personal bias, but believe me when I say I stand behind the mark. It really is a strong outing for Team McEwan et al.)
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt