Black Bull 40

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A long time ago (4 years) when I didn’t know as much about whisky as I do now (still not that much) I saw an interesting bottle of whisky.

It had a large, Black Bull on it. And as I am in my 30s and only mildly question my sexuality most days, that didn’t do enough for me. At that time I was being very picky with what I bought. An unknown whisky that stated it was a blend wasn’t going to turn me.

As such, I didn’t buy it. I totally judged a book by it’s cover. I also didn’t know too much about Reddit and hadn’t heard anything about it.

Jump ahead to now. I’m a little smarter. I want to try everything. Yes, fucking everything… whisky wise, stop typing me a love letter Hugo, I’m taken.

I buy a split of a bottle of Black Bull 40. Seems silly, but heck, I want to try it. And try it I did.

After that, while writing this I start reading about George Wilsher. He created Black Bull back in 1864. And he did things differently.

If I had known that, maybe I had bought it years ago. Damn.

George decided he would make blends that were high strength with a high malt content.

Let’s take a minute for all the whisky nerds to calm themselves down after reading that last sentence.

Black Bull has changed over the last 150 years, and George’s original concept of all blends being 50% ABV, 50% malt, and 50% grain has changed. Somewhat. They don’t use chill-filltration, or colouration. They don’t stick to a “style” and blend based on innovation.

At least, they say they do.

Oh, and they are now owned by Duncan Taylor. You know, those crazy scamps who make IBs. And from what I’m seeing, their 12 year sticks to the original idea put forth by George.

But we’re not here to read about the 12 year, otherwise it’d be bold.

No, some fools went out and skipped all those “standard” editions and fell right to the finish line. The Prestige edition. The 40 year. The one with more single malt than grain. Much more, as in almost 8 times more.

So let’s see if I should have waited, or not. Lots of information on this product, and that is awesome. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?

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Price: N/A in Ontario

Region: Blend

Batch No. 3

Bottled: 04/12

Makeup: Single Malt 85.6%, Single Grain 14.4%

Contains: Ben Nevis, Bunnahabhain, Caperdonich, Glen Grant, Glenlivet, Highland Park, Invergordon

Abv: 41.6%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/6

Nose: Tapioca pudding, apples, Vidal ice wine, Waldorf salad, fennel, cherry, milkshake, medium maple syrup

Initially the flavour can be summed up as: Apple. Note above that a lot of the different flavours have a mix of apples, syrup, cream, and a light amount of spice.

However that doesn’t sum it up correctly. “Apple” shows up, and certainly things with apple, but this is more complex. Maybe raisins, nutty edges, alcohol vapors mixed with grapefruit acidity, and other things I can’t divorce from the apples.

Taste: Cherry Italian soda, graham cracker, raspberry jam, grassy, grape

Dry, fruity, and effervescent on the tongue. Lots of red fruit, major fruit notes, and thick mouthfeel.

Given the age, I think the Abv is definitely due to age over any watering down. Quite dry too, so if you’re a fan of that, this is up your alley.

Finish: Peppercorn sauce, fennel, gooseberry, brine, almond milk, basil, raisin

Finish has the Highland Park pepper/far off peat that I enjoy. And brine from Islay, which is a nice addition. The rich raisin flavour shows up again.

The finish leaves me a little bit wanting. It’s medium in length, and doesn’t live up to the age statement, the nose, or even aspects of the taste. Which is too bad. I enjoy it, I just feel that it can do better, be better.

Conclusion: It’s a 40 year blend, so there’s some assumptions at greatness here. And while it certainly has the nose and taste to back those up, I’m sad about the finish, which is tasty, and nice.

Just not enough for 40 years. It’s a great whisky. Seriously, I’m not sad I bought it, and a full bottle won’t do you wrong. I’m a hard marker, I know it. It’s dry and fruity on the tongue, has some crazy unique notes on the nose.

It’s just okay on the finish. Lots of cream, some rich fruit notes, and… that’s all. I like this. And I want to try others from Black Bull.

I guess this is like visiting Spain: Don’t expect the finish to be good for the Bull. But the lead up is amazing.


Scotch review #563, Blend review #59, Whisky Network review #928

3 thoughts on “Black Bull 40

  1. The list of distilleries used in this blend reads quite nice, even though I don’t know all of them. Caperdonich, I have not even heard by name before, let alone tried. Out of curiosity, may I ask what’s the current price for a bottle of Black Bull 40yo?


  2. Hi Tobi,

    I split mine, so I can’t really remember the price. I want to say we paid $400 (CAD) for it, however I just checked Master of Malt, and theirs is $700!

    Caperdonich was “Glen Grant #2” for many years. If you look back about 3 or 6 reviews on here, I recently reviewed my first one. They closed down in 2002.


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