[Review] Black Bottle - Blended Scotch Whisky 40%

I have not reviewed a blend for a while, so here is one. Black Bottle is a blend I have heard mentioned several times in the last few years but never really managed to cross path with until about a month ago. My local supermarket decided to have a bit of a shuffle with several aisles, and the wine and spirits moved. I did not think too much about it until I actually found myself standing in from of the whiskies, realising a few new things had appeared on the shelves, and that included Black Bottle. Wait a couple of weeks and the already decent £18 price tag dropped to £14 so I had to buy one and open it straight away.

However, the Black Bottle so many people rave about is the pre-2013 version, when the blend was much peatier with a lot of Islay malts at its core. The old version was also available as a 10 years old as well as a much rare 15 years old. In 2013 the Burn Stewart brand had a bit of a relaunch and did something a bit unusual in changing quite drastically the flavour profile of their product. This is the bottle I am about to review.

The main idea behind the change was the desire to return the brand to its 'original 1879 roots' with less peat but more fruit notes. The bottle also had a transformation, from green glass back to black glass.

Being an affordable blend, Black Bottle is bottled at 40% and I guess it has received the standard chill-filtration/E150 treatment. The colour is quite dark amber. As far as components as concerned, doing a bit of research got me names such as Tobermory, Ledaig, Bunnahabhain and Deanston*. The final blend being actually recasked in American virgin oak.

Nose: Sweet and quite rich, with cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla and hints of smoke (Bunnahabhain?) There is also something floral/herbal/medicinal in the background (some kind of cough syrup) It has some rum notes too.

Palate: Sweet again with some smoke. A bit like if Bunnahabhain met Highland Park! Raisins and dried fruit, brown sugar again. A bit rum-like again. It is relatively creamy too with hints of spice and some herbal/heather notes.

Finish: Some sweetness (I think you're getting the picture here!), dried fruit, candied peels but also quite a bit of bitterness lingering at the end, bitter orange pith. The smoke is very light but still in the background.

With water: The nose is less rich but fresher and more mineral. The palate is quite sweet and dried fruity. The finish is quite sweet and spicy. The water makes it more straight forward in term of flavours and adds quite a bit of spice on the finish. At 40%, I think I'll continue enjoying it without!

Being a big peathead, I have never tried the old version of Black Bottle, but I must admit that this one is pretty good, particular when you consider the cost of it. It is definitely a bottle I would go to to fill my hip flask when I want something enjoyable whilst out and about without needing a Glencairn or breaking the bank.


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