Black Bull is a blended whisky from Duncan Taylor that exists in a sort of premium space. By this I mean that even the ‘regular’ 12 year old is being held in pretty high esteem is not a whisky scoffed at. They also produce a range of special releases that can get pretty pricy, which puts me off a little bit.
A couple of years ago, when this single release came out I picked it up right away at The Old Pipe. By single release I mean that, contrary to their ‘Special Reserve’ and their 40 year old, this hasn’t come back in new iterations.
Also not like the 40 year old is that they don’t give you much information on which whiskies are included in the blend. What they do state, and this is pretty cool, is that they blended this before maturation, instead of afterwards. I also believe I read somewhere that it consists of 50% malt and 50% grain whisky. It’s bottled at 50% which is a nice percentage for any whisky.
Big on heavy and fruity sherry. There’s the dried fruits in the form of raisins, plums and dates. The lighter peaches and apricots are all but missing from the mix. It’s sweet with allspice and oak. Lovely deep and rich, and after the initial alcohol has wafted off (there is some of that) a gentle fruity dram with big sherry notes is left.
It feels slightly lower in alcohol than it actually is, but there is a certain build up with some alcohol heat and a tinge of peppercorns. Furthermore there’s allspice and then fruit. The fruit and spice seem to have switched position. There’s a bit of ginger, with raisins, oak, dates and a slightly bitter edge. Thicker than I expected, but quite lovely! I don’t smell it but there might be a tiny hint of smoke in here.
The finish is very warming and leaves the fruitiness behind on the palate quite long. A bit of a burn, but in a very nice way, if left too. A very Christmassy dram, that would go well with a roaring fireplace and an armchair (fireplace must be the least inspired word in the English language, by the way). Very long, very good.
Back in the day this would have set you back some € 80 to € 90. Currently I expect it to be some € 200 is last Saturday’s auction is any guide, but I’d still consider buying a bottle at € 150 or so. This is a very, very tasty dram that would easily pass off as a malt. The depth and intensity are stunning and there is quite a lot going on without the flavors being blended into oblivion (my main issue with blends).
I gladly recommend this to anyone who’s up for a sherried whisky and can handle a bit of oak. Bloody good whisky!
Black Bull 30 years old, 50%, blended at birth by Duncan Taylor. Hard to find, check auctions.