Black Bottle

Black Bottle (New Bottling) (Scottish Blended Malt Whisky: 40% Abv)

Visual: Deep burnished gold.

Viscosity: A few fast streaks.

Nose: Coal and caramel. Slight lime sorbet. Water makes more golden syrup and smoke.

Body: Treacle. Smoke and tarry oil. Heather. Soft lemon sorbet. Liquorice. Water adds vanilla custard sweetness.

Finish: Charcoal. Char grilled chicken with honey barbecue sauce. Water adds vanilla custard notes.

Conclusion: Seriously, for pounds sterling cost to quality of whisky Black Bottle has always come in as one of the all time winners. Now, this new version is less one note than the already interesting previous editions – neat it comes in proper impressive with an almost coal dust and smoke aroma, full on and foreboding of a heavy whisky to come.

The body is sweeter, even neat, though with a thick character that calls to a tarry heritage. Despite the full nature of it there are hints of soft sorbet behind, which I presume are a sign of the newly found Speyside influence in this blend.

For me, I found that water did not help this dram though. It really reined in the heavier elements, muting down the smoke and coal. Now for some that may be the thing they want as it does bring out the sweeter notes and make it a smoother whisky, for my money though that seems to defeat the point of the black bottle. It is still a big thick whisky though, the full bodied style now expressed as a tarry thick toffee sweetness.

In a way I do miss the more single minded, more Islay heavy, old black bottle, but this is definitely the more refined expression – trading off sheer punch for a more rounded character.

A good blend, a good alteration to an old recipe, a good cheap whisky – so many unexpected words there. Well worth the cash.

Background: The second whisky at the pre burns night tasting at Independent Spirit. Despite this being the second whisky, it was also the last one I finished notes for, so may be the most drunken and illegible. We shall see. This was the recently re-launched Black Bottle, now concentrating less on Islay whisky than before and in a new/old prohibition style bottle. As before, since this was a group tutored tasting my notes may have been influenced, but I tried my best to write what I thought. I was a big fan of the old Black Bottle, finding it a good Islay styled whisky at a very low price point.