Black Bull 12 comes out top @ Whisky Fun.com

Black is back: tasting four ‘black’ blends

From zee internet: ‘Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery. Black denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious colour (black tie, black Mercedes).’ All right, all right…
Black Bottle (40%, OB, +/-2010) Two stars The recently repackaged famous brand that is meant to contain all Islay malts, except Kilchoman I guess. Earlier versions of the NAS always scored around 77/78 points in my book. Colour: pale gold. Nose: the smokiness of the Islay components is very obvious at first nosing, as well as whiffs of sea air and maybe a faint farminess (cow stable). In that sense it’s very different from most other blends. Not much ‘graininess’, rather some hints of fresh herbs, chives, a little mint. Very nice, finely peated nose but it gets a tad dusty and bland after fifteen minutes. Mouth: well, it hasn’t got the nice appeal that it had on the nose, this is rather flat and too porridgy for my taste. The peat gives it a slightly bitter taste and the whole is soon to get too dry in my opinion. It’s also a little too sour (overripe apples). Finish: shortish, with notes of caramel and candy sugar that do not combine too well with the bitterness. Comments: I didn’t like it as much as earlier batches despite its nice but ‘short’ nose, but it’s still a fine dram. Maybe it needs ice. SGP:234 – 70 points.
Black Dog 12 yo (43%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2009) Two stars A brand from Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya’s stable (alongside Whyte & Mackay, Dalmore, Jura and many Indian whiskies) Colour: full gold (I don’t know why I bother with colours when assessing blends, almost all are ‘caramel gold’ anyway). Nose: typical average blended whisky, malty, caramelly and slightly coffee-ish, with also hints of roasted nuts and that faint dustiness that many blends display. Also a little chocolate and oranges as well as a little liquorice and leather and finally quite some marzipan. Frankly, this is nicely composed, works well, has quite some backbone and is relatively complex. Mouth: mundane but rather above the average cheap blend. Malty, coffee-ish, nutty and chocolaty, but just like the Black Bottle, gets a little bitterish. Also a little rawish/spirity. Finish: medium long, a little bitter, with something plankish in the aftertaste. White pepper. Comments: I really liked the nose, which is why I’ll give it a rather high mark, but the palate was uninteresting albeit not flawed. SGP:331 – 74 points.
Black Jack 16yo (40%, OB, Blend, Angus Mac Donald, +/-1970) Two stars and a half An oldie this time. Colour: gold. Nose: OBE striking at very first sniffs, then much more fruits than in both the Bottle and the Dog. Crystallised tangerines, apricots, fresh almonds, maybe hints of mangos, chicory… It’s also quite phenolic and peaty, with a faint Bowmoreness. Superb nose I must say, there was probably quite some malts in this composition and not the worst ones. Mouth: quite good even if it’s a tad dusty/grainy and spirity at very first sips. One again, more fruits than in the others, orange zests, bitter almonds, a little cough syrup (I believe it’s often to be found in old bottlings, it may come from a kind of degradation of the phenols/peat). Also a little tar. Finish: not long and maybe a tad bitter and dusty now, with hints of raw alcohol in the aftertaste (cologne). Comments: once again, very nice nose and a palate that’s slightly disappointing, but we’re very close to the 80-mark here in my opinion. The best so far. SGP:432 – 78 points.
Black Bull 12 yo (50%, Duncan Taylor, 2009) Three stars The old ones (30, 40) were quite superb, let’s see how the 12 behaves. Colour: full gold. Nose: more power and more strength here of course but I wouldn’t say it’s more aromatic than the superb Black Jack. The oak is a little more obvious and so is the malt part, the whole starting on vanilla and oranges (more orange blossom water actually) and developing more on leather, a little green tea, just tiny whiffs of smoke and hints of cider. Also stewed fruits (black currants quite obvious), which suggest some sherry. Mouth: rich and creamy, nervous, malty, starting with notes of cherries and stewed fruits again, then various nuts, milk chocolate and hints of strawberry jam. Gets then a tad rawer and less ‘precise’ as the oak kicks in. Black tea, white pepper, orange marmalade, crystallised ginger. Finish: long, with a return of the vanilla. Peppery oak in the aftertaste. Comments: very high quality for a 12yo blend, but of course it’s not the 40yo. Not too sure 50% is a perfect strength for such a blend if you ask me, maybe 46% would make it a tad ‘easier’ (but wouldn’t it lose its USP?). A powerful blend, not to sip near the BBQ. SGP:451 – 82 points.

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