A while ago I was contacted by Skene Whisky, and Black Tartan Whisky if I would like to receive a sample for reviewing. He didn’t initially mention what the sample was about, but it had been ages since I was approached by anyone for such purposes.
Anyway, some time later this sample arrived and we were in the middle of quite significant construction work at home, and the dust that came with it clogged up my nose massively. In such a way that only now, after four months and three (negative) Corona tests later, I’m getting back to properly tasting drams again.
Supposedly, this blended malt whisky consists of Macallan, Highland Park and Glenrothes, so a very Edrington focused blend it is! Luckily, these three are generally in very good hands if they’re handled by independent bottlers.
This whisky was ‘blended at birth’, which is why it can be both a blend and a single cask. Birth was in 1988, so at the time of bottling this was 31 years old.
Not surprisingly, there is a lot of oak in this whisky, and there’s quite some vanilla on the nose. It’s rather rich with some Springbank-like funk as well. There’s an interesting bread scent that I can’t really place. No, it’s potato crisps or Pringles, somehow. I also get that with very malty IPAs, strangely (it’s not a bad thing, per se). So lots of slightly roasty malt.
The palate is surprisingly fierce for a 31 year old whisky at 48%. Dry, with lots of oak and malt. After a few seconds there are some notes of tropical fruit with apricots. Dark, crusty bread. Black pepper.
The finish keeps up with the maltiness, but the hint of ‘Pringles’ is much diminished. There’s the apricots again, as well as a nice layer of rich oak. The spices of the palate are present too, but much more intertwined with the wood notes.
This whisky shows a remarkable balance, without being tame. There are some spicy notes, there’s fruit and oak too. What takes it up a notch are the funky notes that are especially present on the nose. This makes it quite a bit more interesting than ‘yet another blended malt’, and that’s pretty awesome!
Black Tartan 1988-2020, 31yo, Hogshead 00016, 48%. Available for £ 248 from Skene Whisky
Thanks to Skene Whisky for the sample! It’s delicious!