Time for another high end blend. This time at a rather remarkable 40 years of age.
Black Bull 40 is a batch production whisky, and at the time of writing (May, 2014) I believe batch 4 is the most current expression to hit the markets. I’ve tried this whisky a couple of times over the past few years, generally at festivals and such, but this is the first time I’ve been able to sit down and jot some proper notes on it. Further…I truly have no idea at this point which editions I may or may not have tried in the past. (Odd how fuzzy some details are after a night at a whisky festival, huh?)
Sitting down with this striking old blend in a controlled environment is quite a treat. To cop a redneck term of measure, there’s a shit ton of good on offer here, and you don’t have to dig deep to find it. In fact…at first nosing, I’d be hard-pressed to guess this was a blend. Primarily due, I imagine, to the incredibly lopsided ratio of malt whisky to grain whisky in this one. There has been no attempt at striking any sort of middling balance between the two (usally a cost-saving effort) and that is a-ok with us. The character of Black Bull 40 is built almost entirely on the malts. If the stories are to be believed, this has anywhere from a mix of 85.6% malt to 14.4% grain ratio to a straight 90% malt to 10% grain. Not sure which exactly is correct, but either way this is an unprecedentedly large variance, and one that benefits the consumer more than the producer.
The distilleries represented in the alchemy of BB40 apparently include Ben Nevis, Bunnahabhain, Caperdonich, Glen Grant, Highland Park and Invergordon. Not that you’d recognize and of these distillery’s charactereistics, but nevertheless, awareness of bloodline is always appreciated.
There’s one other thing that bears mentioning here. This is an outrageously priced whisky. And for once I mean that in a good way. I think we in Alberta can buy this for around $250 locally. $250? For 40 years? Who else is releasing whisky at that kind of price point? Short answer: No one.
For those out there looking to mark a milestone birthday or such, this is undoubtedly the most affordable 40 year old on the market. A helluva bang-for-your-buck bottle. More importantly though…it’s just really, really good whisky.
So…let’s see what a 40 year old blend is like…
Nose: Rather tropical. White pepper and pineapple. Some peach and orange. Butterscotch pudding. Some wax. Maybe a bare whiff of smoke. Eucalyptus. Light, clean and lovely.
Palate: The palate doesn’t scream ’40’ like the nose does. More assertive oak now. Touch of latex paint and wax. Tart, fruit notes. Maybe still some pineapple. Some lemon and honey.
Thoughts: A little thin on arrival, but beautifully struck.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt