Thanks to Whiskyjig for the sample.
Sorry for the cloudy glass image.
Trying 40-year-old whiskies is not a normal occurrence for me, what with my amazing idea to sell people oil that both cleans your hair and can be used in your car never taking up. I just think the world is not ready for it yet.
Black Bull 40 Batch 1 is where things differ: A long time ago, there were actually multiple batches. Think about that: Multiple blended whiskies that believed in using more malt than grain, were age stated, and were affordable. If Compass Box came out with that tomorrow, it’d cost your future kid’s kidneys (all of them).
So this is a blend of at-least-40-year-old whiskies (components down below), all of which would cost your eye-teeth and then probably a bunch of money since we’re not orks and teeth aren’t currency to us. Zug-zug.
How did it come to be? Speculation is that, given the components (40+ year Springbank), these had fallen below the minimum amount to still call something a whisky (40%). So while they are flavourful, you wouldn’t be able to call them whisky. Thus you mix them together and end up with an amount above 40%, perhaps spending a bit more on distilleries that are less popular (Tamdhu, Miltonduff) to amp up the abv.
Could it be too good to be true? Could it be more Tamdhu than Springbank? Well jokes on you, I’ve enjoyed a few Tamdhus!
Let’s just try this, shall we?
Price: $300 CAD (way back when)
Blend Components: Glenfarclas, Glenlivet, Highland Park, Springbank, Bunnahabhain, Tamdhu, Miltonduff
Bottled: November 2009
Cask type: Oak casks
Colour: 2.5Y 7/8
Nose: Banana candy, fruitcake, oaked soaked pears, raspberry tart, pot pourri
Can’t split the pear and the wood notes apart. Yes, I know no one soaks pears in oak. That’s the best way I could explain this, I’m not trying to be artistic, I’m just saying there’s a strong, woody pear note.
Also some strong old fruit, nutty, candy notes, and buttery elements. Takes a bit to draw it out, as it’s all quite light.
Taste: Almond, industrial oil, parsnip, banana, leather
Alright, that’s all Springbank. Weaker than normal, interesting old Springbank, but it’s all being carried by the industrial oil and nuttiness. There’s some fruit, I’m assuming that’s from one of the others, but I’m going to be honest here: Springbank, like in the whisky world, has taken over so much.
And like that one guy at work who does most of the actual work (yes I’m projecting), it could sure use some help. It’s all a bit muted and trying really hard, but not quite getting there.
Finish: Brown sugar, mineral, leather, button mushrooms, rum cake
Simpler earthy, brown sugar, and then complex leather and rum cask finish. The finish is going to be the hardest to break apart and is the reason you take a long time to enjoy a dram of this whisky.
Conclusion: Needs another strong whisky in there, as the Springbank is doing so much heavy lifting that it’s more jacked than the entire NFL. Good blend that falls down a bit on the taste.
I eventually liked the finish. It goes on you. The whole whisky grows on you, really. The first impact isn’t as huge as you’d expect from something with 40 on the label (in the age spot). It really is an introvert whisky that needs time to grow and evolve. Probably even more than the usual “leave it for 1 minute per year” rule.
All in all, I enjoyed this, but enjoyed Batch 3 more. That’s okay. From what I see, there’s 7 batches out there, so 5 to go… right?
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