Thursday, 6 February 2014

Old Age Puncheon - Part III

Black Bull 40yo - 4th Release - 41.9%

Play with the bull.....

Relentlessly, the Saga tour bus trundles on through the world of aged whisky. As I load up on Sanatogen and struggle to come to terms with decimalisation, the skies darken, the wind howls and the road becomes decidedly rocky. The last (affordable) 40 year old to be examined this week takes us into blend territory.

Duncan Taylor has now released four super-aged versions of their beautiful, bovine blend, each more expensive than the last. They are touted as being excellent quality and the 40yo versions are bottled with a 9:1 malt to grain ratio. Past releases have reportedly contained some of the heavy hitters of the whisky world, such as Bunnahabhain, Glenlivet, Tamdhu, Glenfarclas, Springbank & Invergordon, to name but a few. With such a glamorous pedigree, you can imagine it has the potential to be nothing short of spectacular.

Opens with black cherries, almonds, sherbert and Turkish delight; think sweetie shops of old. A little time uncovers mixed peel and creamy vanilla.

Water causes a stark transformation as board markers and mild aniseed join the fun. Fresh fennel and strawberry cordial. Time to rest gives a more floral bouquet and a faint, soapy note.

Sweet and fizzy and with a fair amount of smoke. Milk chocolate and mild clove with gentle wood drawing in. Charred oak and wisps of barbecue.

Water turns the experience into a much gentler affair but dilutes the sweetness. Smoke is still there but it starts to meld with bitter wood and dark chocolate. A little time shows sherry and walnuts.

Quite tart at the outset but not at all drying. Subtle spices on the front of the tongue but overall a little short and unsatisfying.

Water pretty much destroys the finish. Even shorter than before with only mild, spicy cameos keep the whole thing from collapsing completely.

Alarmingly gentle, despite the high malt content. Plenty of flavour when taken neat with only the finish suffering as a result of water, although this is a bit of a problem when the neat finish is so short. This version retails for around the £200 mark, if you can still get it. No doubt the next release will cost you £50 more.

Grade: B
Tasty and ever so drinkable but disappointing on the finish. Some may balk at paying such a price for a blend but I dare say it offers better value than some of the NAS, premium blends currently in circulation.

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