We’re off to the Eclectic Experiment event in a few weeks which is sponsored by Black Bottle. This seems as good an excuse as any to open the bottle which we bought a while ago and have a taste in preparation.
Black Bottle has always been an atypical blend in that it contained a higher than usual proportion of Islay whisky, giving it a smoky character.
Current owners Burns Stewart relaunched the whisky in 2013, with a new (old style) bottle and replacing some of that Islay spirit with Speyside to smooth it out.
Despite some grumblings from fans of the ‘old’ Black Bottle, this new recipe is apparently closer to original blender Gordon Graham’s version, so who are we to argue.
Our tasting notes are below:
A light sweet nose initially and the ‘Butterkist popcorn’ smell you get from grain whisky is the first aroma.
It quickly gets fresher with some sharp green apple, a hint of orange blossom and light honey appearing. Given a little time, sherry notes arrive – light raisins, blackcurrant jam and caramel.
The flavours are immediately ‘darker’ than the nose, with dark brown sugar, treacle and bitter chocolate in the mouth. There are hints of black bun fruit sweetness there too. It’s hard to detect any peated notes – they are present but very restrained – just sitting in the background throughout.
A second sip tastes almost savoury – that Islay influence definitely hasn’t been removed!
The finish is where the peat is strongest, popping up just at the end to provide some smokey bitterness and turn the dark sugar into leather and tobacco flavours.
Not a hugely long finish, but the flavours hold right until the end.
This is the first time I’ve tried Black Bottle and based on this tasting, I’m not sure why it’s taken so long!
Given it’s about £20 a bottle – in the current whisky frenzy, it’s a bargain.
A very good, drinkable whisky which is completely approachable (and would be perfect for mixing or cocktails), but enough flavour to drink neat.
I’d like to try one of the older editions for comparison purposes but suspect that a current bottle may become a permanent fixture on the shelf in future.