Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #2

Black Bottle
Blended Scotch Whisky
40% abv
£14
$30(USD)

NOMINATED in the 2008 DRAMMIES
*Bang for Buck
Vote HERE (before Mar 6, 2009)


What seems to me to be the natural next step in this Malt Mission is Black Bottle.

Black Bottle is a "real" Scottish whisky, a drink for Scots, both in myth and in fact. Nearly every pub in Scotland will have one on optics, and no man (or woman) holding up the bar across the country will balk when you utter its alliterative name. Until recently(meaning the last 10+ years) it was only readily available in the UK.


From the late 19th century until 1959 Black Bottle was almost exclusively a North-eastern Highland dram for the people. But while tasting Black Bottle when in Aberdeenshire was like getting a passport stamp, the stuff in the bottle allegedly tasted pretty awful. That is until the 1990’s when it was re-created to represent the best of Islay, being made up of 7 Islay distilleries (sorry, no Port Ellen, and some doubt there is any Ardbeg or Lagavulin in it anymore… but lets leave that for now) mixed with Glenrothes and whiskies from up to 3 grain distilleries.


TASTING NOTES:


The nose immediately takes you out of doors, or at least to the open window of a kitchen: yes there is something baking, but the fresh sea air dominates the bready background. The sea air has a real authentic stink with some peat appearing in dirty waves. Lovely and VERY inviting, although certainly not for everyone.


Soft and dissolving in the mouth, but the sweetness I remember from the last time I had it is much more subdued. The foreground is like sourdough with peated barley, ashtrays in the room but not in your face, and now lamb is in the oven.
Something lingers that teases just enough to make you want to/need to grab the glass again… Please sir, can I have some more?

SUMMARY:

An absolute bargain that really satisfies that Islay urge, without dwindling your supplies of pricier (and increasingly so) south Islay malts (Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroaig).
One complaint, if I have to have one, is the watery effect on the palate. Could they up the abv? Not chill filter? Something? Who knows…

MaltMission#1
MaltMission#3
Malt Mission #4
Malt Mission #5
Malt Mission #6

4 comments:

Matthew said...

You were wooing me until you mentioned "ashtrays", which make me barf. Don't make me bark! I love Black Bottle!

AO said...

Charlie McLean told me this was his "everyday", or, "go to" dram. Pretty respectable endorsement. My first experience with it was trying to mix it with Ginger Ale for a pretty sloppy Old Fashioned (big mistake). But I agree that it's a fine "go to", sans ginger, of course.

Talisker said...

Last week I had the distinct pleasure to drink at Duffy's, the famous bar attached to the Lochside Hotel in Bowmore. Having visited a number of the local Islay distilleries that same day, I recognized a few faces among the early evening crowd. Curiously, the same people responsible for making my favourite malt whiskies were drinking (gasp) BEER! I asked the bartender if this was typical, or if I'd inadvertently stepped into bizarro world where Superman is black and lives underwater. His response: "No doubt that beer is popular, but they usually prefer this (pointing at Black Bottle). Gets you just as pissed, but a lot faster."

Talisker said...

Last week I had the distinct pleasure to drink at Duffy's, the famous bar attached to the Lochside Hotel in Bowmore. Having visited a number of the local Islay distilleries that same day, I recognized a few faces among the early evening crowd. Curiously, the people responsible for making some of my favourite malt whiskies were drinking (gasp) BEER! I asked the bartender if this was typical, or if I'd inadvertently stepped into bizarro world where Superman is black and lives underwater. His response: "No doubt that beer is popular, but they usually prefer this (pointing at Black Bottle). Gets you just as pissed, but a lot faster."