Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Whiskey Wednesday: Back in Black -- Black Bottle
For the final part of our three part series on blended Scotch, I thought I would try one of the more popular new blends.
Technically, Black Bottle isn't a new blend, but it was reformulated several years ago to include malts from all seven working distilleries on Islay: Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. As Islay is hot right now, Black Bottle took off with this new formula and extra dark bottle (see picture - okay, it's not really that dark).
Black Bottle produces two expressions, a ten year old and a younger blend with no age statement. I've never seen the younger version in the US, but the ten year old is widely available at good liquor stores, usually in the $33 range.
Black Bottle 10 year old, 40% abv
This is the first time I've had a blend which, if I had been tasting blind, I definitely would have pegged as a single malt. It has strong island flavors, peat, smoke...not too much in the way of medicine. There's also a pleasant malty lightness to it. In some ways it really is the uber-Islay, with elements of the many complex malts of that island.
At $33, Black Bottle is a great deal and shows that blends can play with the big boys. Check it out.