Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New releases ... Black Bull 40 years old

black bull 40 years oldA new addition to the 'family'
The Black Bull range of blends is owned by Duncan Taylor & Co, one of Scotland's largest independent bottling companies. They have recently revamped the brand and this new 40 years old joins a 12 and a 30 years old in the range. The Black Bull brand has been around for over 70 years since it was originally produced in the early 1930s, with Duncan Taylor taking it over in 2001. We thank Karen Law at Duncan Taylor for supplying us with this sample. More information can be found on www.blackbullwhisky.com.

Large collection of casks
Duncan Taylor and Co. were set up in Glasgow in 1938 with the plan to bottle and blend whisky for export to America following Prohibition. They are now based in the town of Huntly, close to the Speyside whisky region of Scotland. Duncan Taylor are reported to have one of the largest privately held collections of rare whisky casks in the world and bottle approximately 200 different whiskies a year. Their range is extensive and has numerous branches to it . For more information on their ranges of whisky and Duncan Taylor, check out their website www.dtcscotch.com.

High single malt content
The Black Bull 40 Year Old is a premium blended whisky and contains 90% single malt whisky and 10 % grain whisky. As with all blended whiskies, the stated age (in this case, 40 years old) is that of the youngest whisky that is contained within the blend. This is the first batch of Black Bull 40 years old. It is released this week and it contains whiskies aged between 40 and 44 years of age. The single malt whiskies included are from a broad mix of distilleries - Bunnahabhain, Glenburgie, Glenfarclas, Glenlivet, Highland Park, Miltonduff, Springbank and Tamdhu, with the grain whisky coming from Invergordon. It is bottled at 40.2% ABV and should cost around £125 from specialist retailers or Duncan Taylor's website.

Our tasting notes

The colour of Black Bull 40 years old is a deep golden yellow and the nose is inviting. It feels fresh considering the age of the whiskies including. The nose is packed with obvious vanilla, coconuts and lots of oak. These aromas are joined by more subtle notes - honey, dried grasses, cereal grains, something citric (think of lemon or orange zest) and a slight hint of dusty mustiness creeps in with time. On the palate, this is intense and zingy with the vanilla, oak and coconut at the forefront again. These mingle with other more subtle notes that give this whisky pleasant complexity - there is plenty of honey, some almonds, dried fruits (imagine raisins, sultanas and apricots), cereals and dried grasses/hay. A lovely oaky spicy element appears towards the end of the palate that is reminiscent of a combination of ginger and nutmeg. The finish is massively woody and oaky, with vanilla and cereal grains prominent. It becomes very dry, very quickly but remains as clean and intense as before.

What's the verdict?
This is a very pleasant whisky and offers exceptionally good value for money, when you consider the age of the whiskies involved (check out the prices of some of the 40 year old single malts that are around and you will see what we mean!). It is remarkably fresh for a whisky of this age and maintains its intensity despite the relatively low ABV alcoholic strength. A lovely dram.

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