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Well, it's been a while since I've reviewed anything (life gets in the way of whisky, unfortunately) so let's do a fairly straightforward, easy-to-find scotch: Black Bottle. Note that last year I reviewed an older bottling of a mini, from the early 1990s; this is the current bottling that I just picked up a few days ago (it has been decanted for about a week).
The colour is a medium amber. On the nose there is barley sugar (it's rather sweet), malt and a hint of peat. Quite herbal with thyme and mint. Apple skins and overripe pears. Bandages from the Islay ingredients. Slightly dusty. Not a terribly complex nose, but has enough elements (peat smoke, fruit, medicinal notes) to provide interest. Water kills the nose though; proceed accordingly.
On the palate the peat is a little more restrained; what remains is a fairly generic combination of fruit, malt and oak. The peat is there but it's not very smoky - just biting and herbal enough. Water ups the malt and adds a brininess. A little underwhelming but very drinkable.
The finish is tropical fruits, with a heathery, cottony quality (I don't quite know how else to put it) and touches of oak. A salty tang lingers in the mouth. My research tells me that most people feel that the older bottlings of Black Bottle (like the mini I had) are superior to the recent ones. Well, I disagree. I noted in my old review that I had tried this new bottling in Scotland, and the older mini simply was not up to snuff; now that I try this one, although it has many flaws, it still holds up as a decent, very drinkable and enjoyable dram. Well worth the price, as long as you don't expect to be blown away.