Review #41: Port Charlotte MC:01 Marsala Cask
This is the third review of our 4-bottle Port Charlotte vertical tasting with a variety of cask maturations. The first review was the standard expression in ex-bourbon barrels, the second was a cognac cask, and the remaining review is our Sherry cask valinch (distillery exclusive).
Like the cognac cask, the marsala cask was released as a travel retail exclusive. So when my coworker went to China, I asked (made) him pick me up one! Port Charlotte has been known to experiment quite heavily with wine cask finishes, and MRC (Bordeaux casks) is another that is said to be quite similar in taste profile to MC. I played around with the idea of getting the MRC cask, but I ended up deciding against it – and am holding out for more sherry cask matured Port Charlottes.
This particular bottling was finished (not fully matured) in marsala casks for 3 years and although it does not have an age statement, its “vintage” is 2009, which implies that is 9 years old.
- Score - 8/108/10
Nose: Strong and bold nose. Caramel fights with a thick black cloud of unctuous tar and rubber. Wet seaside rocks, stewed meat, BBQ charcoal, toffee, ginger spice.
Palate: Toffee and medicinal tea and coffee. Barbecued ripe tomatoes, BBQ sauce, salty AF, ash, caramelized fruits.
Finish: Briny olive oil, just a bit of alcoholic burn. Long.
TLDR: Barbecued pickles
Summary: 8 – Excellent Whisky (link to our scoring guide). It’s weird and funky but also quite beautiful. For anyone that loves both highland park and peat – there is an interplay of the BBQ taste of an HP and the salted caramel and olive oil notes that we tend to get out of a Port Charlotte.
Bought for: $130 in Shanghai airport
- ABV: 56.3%
- Cask: Six years in ex-bourbon casks and 3 years in Italian Marsala wine casks
- Age: 9 years, although officially it is a No Age Statement
- Non-chill filtered, coloring free
- Bruichladdich was our favorite distillery tour on Islay (read more about our visit here). It is also the largest private employer on Islay (even more than Laphroaig or Lagavulin) due to its reliance on manpower versus machines.
- It is famous for its Octomore line, which is known for having extremely high peat levels – even up to 200 to 300 ppm (its 08.3 has 309 ppm). Its peated Port Charlotte line is 40 ppm.
- Prides itself on being highly experimental and for trying to feature terroir (even releasing a “terroir-ed” gin called Botanist)
- Built in 1881 but mothballed in 2000 – before it was purchased by its fan and aficionado Mark Reynier. Now owned by Remy Cointreau.
Read our previous Port Charlotte reviews below