Been having a clear out this week, after our mammoth drive around Scotland. Mrs Caskstrength had had enough of every surface in the house being covered with differing sizes of open bottles, so something radical had to happen; I've started to make a blend of all my favourite drams from the last 10 years, in readiness for my 40th birthday. Ok, it's not for another 4 years yet, but what the hell, I've got a bit of time to get it right, before it's consumed.
I bought a 5 litre Demijohn for the blending vessel and began to select my whiskies. I soon realised that I had some whiskies which had been open for longer than they should- probably past their best, but worthy of inclusion. I also had a huge number of half empty sample bottles, with some superb drams in- some of which were too good to be lost in the abyss of by 5 Litre blend, so I drank those along the way.
So far, the as-yet-unnamed blend will be composed of 40 different whiskies (grain, single malt and Japanese whisky) and it's coming on superbly. Last night, I tweaked it, by adding in some older peated whisky, as well as a healthy measure of vintage grain from Invergordon and the whole thing has really come alive.
My bench mark has been to try and replicate something as sensational as Duncan Taylor's Blackbull 40yo, which combines very old whiskies but some how manages to maintain a wonderfully youthful zeal, amongst such complexity. Surely the key to all great old blends? I'm toying with the idea of transferring the lot into a very small cask for a little while, to see what a secondary maturation would bring, but to be honest, it's drinking really well now so I think i'll just bottle up 5, 1 Litre bottles, to be liberally consumed during the party. That's if I can wait another 4 years!!
Anyway, all this blending leads us on very nicely to another release from the Black Bull range - the Special Reserve. Perhaps more of a bullock, rather than a bull, as it is to be released without an age statement, but from what I've read, it contains a high proportion of single malt, (around 50%) some from the 1970's.
There isn't a lot I can tell you about the whisky, other than it is apparently being released this month and that this is the first batch, so presumably there will be others, assuming it's as popular as the mighty BB 4o yo!!
Black Bull - Special Reserve -Blended whisky - Batch No. 1 - 46.6%
Nose: Hints of velvety oak, golden syrup, mocha, honeycomb, some pronounced zestiness and dried coconut shavings. Given time, a wonderfully perfumed note develops, alongside some big, fat, ripe vanilla pods and some sweet sugary cereal. Really nicely put together and subtle.
Palate: Very sweet to begin with, hints of chopped nuts, more of the golden syrup, leading into some subtle but juicy dried fruit. The oak influence is restrained, but present in the background, giving this some clear age, but with no overbearing dryness.
Finish: The fruits and mildly perfumed notes linger, with a soft sweetness remaining.
Overall: Another simple, yet brilliantly blended whisky from the Black Bull pen. It is different to the 40 yo, - perhaps lacking some of the finer, more subtle nuances displayed by its older brother, but take this to any County Showground and it'll most certainly take home 'Best Of Breed'.