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Black Bottle

Average score from 19 reviews and 72 ratings 79

Black Bottle

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@Megawatt
Black Bottle

This is the new version of Black Bottle, which rumour has it is vastly inferior to the old Black Bottle, which ironically came in a green bottle. Since I haven't tried the green Black Bottle, this review will not evoke any comparisons but will stick with my impressions of the black Black Bottle.

Nose: light Islay notes. Smoked bacon. Note very expressive but nice enough.

Taste: red licorice sweetness infused with peat smoke. An effervescent grainy backbone. Impressive weight and balance.

Finish: short, with wisps of smoke.

Balance: I don't really understand all the moaning about this new release of Black Bottle. Tastes pretty good to me. Peat levels are around Black Grouse territory, stronger than Teacher's, maybe a notch below Islay Mist. Quite drinkable. I would buy it again.

I love this whisky. Nice you picked up on the licorice, that realy does it for me. I don't know many whisky's with the same taste profile.

@talexander

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.

The old version was a blend of all the Islay distilleries with some grain alcohol as well. The older bottles had that statement written on the label. Sometime around 2008 Black Bottle removed that statement and it lost most of its smoke and became sweeter. Around 2013 Black Bottle repackaged and re blended their formula. I have not tried the new version but reviews are much like yours. "A little underwhelming but very drinkable ", that's not a bad thing. For the price and 83 points, it sounds like a nice scotch to have on hand. Thx for the review..

@Rantavahti

This is the discontinued old bottling of Black Bottle. It was nice to get a full bottle of this bang for the buck blended whisky, which has malt from almost every distillery in Islay (Kilchoman not included). Grain whisky is from Speyside, Highland and Lowland.

Islay surely is written all over it, but it isn't nowhere near a peat monster. Apparently it has more smoke, than the new bottling, which is dominated by Bunnahabhain. So the relaunch of Black Bottle in 2013 has less Islay influence.

Even though the bottle in this old version isn't the German-made black glass, that they used originally and are duplicating in the new version, Black Bottle's old presentation is like The Dark Knight. It is dark by taste.

Nose: Starts nicely with smoke that fades away a bit too quickly. Still nice, like fading bonfire. Peat with hints of fruits and salty sea air.

Taste: Peaty and peppery. Hints of sweet and fruity notes. Oak with smoking coal and little bit of honey.

Finish: Lasts nicely, giving a bit spicy feel with charcoal kinda touch. The grains are present, but in a good way. Some burnt sugar as well.

Balance: Smooth but spicy and strong. Nice blended whisky.

@talexander

My first time tasting Black Bottle was in the best possible context for this dram as you can imagine: on the ferry between Kennacraig and Port Askaig. And I loved it - bold, smoky and bracing. This is a blend known for using malts from seven Islay distilleries, as well as Deanston malt. Created in 1879 by C.D. & G. Graham (Aberdeen tea blenders), the brand was subsequently owned by Long John, Allied Lyons, Highland Distillers and Burn Stewart, and is currently blended by Gordon Graham (don't know if he's a relation to the founders). But when was this mini bottled? I would have no idea except for a very fortuitous sticker on the back that reads "With Best Wishes From John & Diane, 7th May 1994". Well, it at least tells me it's no more recent than that, but I'm going with the notion that this was bottled in the early '90s.

The colour is a flat gold. Fairly shy nose, with gentle peat, caramel and vanilla. Some mint as well. Comes across as a slightly peaty blend, but not much more. Water gives both the nose and palate a bit more of a kick.

This is fuller-bodied on the palate, with more spice to go along with the peat. Creamy mouthfeel, with candy floss and creme brûlée. Fairly straightforward, but the peat and spice make it more interesting.

The long finish brings out more spice, with oak, vanilla and some light toffee. Well, this is a bit of a disappointment given that I had tried it before and this is clearly not the same whisky. The dram I had on the ferry to Islay was a recent bottling (with new packaging) and was much better than this (though the context of being on the open sea may have improved my experience). My research bears this out: this would likely have been bottled when Allied Lyons owned the brand (1990-1995), as opposed to the current owners, Burn Stewart, who have improved both packaging and quality. I suppose on the upside, this is the rare whisky that has gotten better with newer bottlings, as opposed to worse, which is unfortunately more common.

@PMessinger
@GBrough

I cannot say enough how disappointing this blend is for me. The alcohol hides everything leaving only certain flavours unmolested. Nose: Honey, Restrained smoke, heavy alcohol, sweet malt. Palate: Honey, restrained smoke, heavy alcohol, sweet malt and a dash of tobacco. Finish: Sweet honey, smoke, tobacco, graphite.

I expected more and what i got was this this is the first blend i am upset with a bowmore legend would of provided the maritime salt i love for 7 bucks more.

@Georgy

NOSE: gentle peatiness combines with fruity sweetness, slightly medicinal. Really nicely balanced. TASTE: sweet, smokey and oily. FINISH: warming, and gently peaty. OVERALL IMPRESSION: a decent budget islay experience

Teachers is nice, but I'd rather have Isle of Skye 8 yo or Te Bheag anytime instead. As for vodka...I don't have any favorite vodka. In fact I don't drink it at all because, in my opinion, it's just a perfect drink to get pissed: no taste, no aromas to it. Just plain spirit and water ...the rest is marketing.

I had to do the very same thing, actually. Besides here in Russia things are more complicated with finding stuff, I guess. And much more expensive at times.

@PeatyZealot

For something that advertises with an Islay taste profile, it's not as peaty/smoky as one might expect. Ralfy's review brought me on this one, but I dont like it as much as he does. It has a spirity character and minimal maltflavor. Nose is thin, taste is flat, lightbodied and the finish is short and not very pleasant. I can taste some Caol Ila, Bunnahabain, but also a lot of cheap grainstuff. Maybe nice for in the hipflask and/or for beginners, but this doesn't make me very happy. Black Label rather than Black Bottle, amen

The bottle I have is something that I don't relish drinking. I pretty much offer it to my guests at home that do not know whisky very well. They like it a great deal. Me, not so much. It tastes like Islay soda pop to me.

In fairness to Ralfy, this product might haven been better when he reviewed it. The line has been discontinued in Oregon and perhaps the entire US. If a product is on the way out, what would stop the producer from skimping on the last year or so? Not sure when the bottle you drank from was bottle or the one I drank from, but your review is not far off the mark in my estimation.

I decided to experiment with it a little and it goes very well with a hot coco and it makes a nice Scottish coffee!

R

I first heard about this whisky from Ralfy on Youtube. He really talked it up, saying it could fool connosrs at a bar into thinking it was a real Islay and not some half-azzed teaser.

Personally I don't think it could fool a malty monkey (as Ralfy says), unless that malt lover was already on the tipsy side and not up to par with his (or her) taste buds.

Black Bottle is not bad, but it's not good either. The grain alcohol does evaporate a bit, mellow the bite that you will first get in a pour of Black Bottle, but it never really comes round for me.

I don't process grain alcohol as well as regular single malt. So that right there means it won't sit as well with me. In other words, more than two drams of this bad boy will put me under the weather a bit the next day, or at least reaching for my sunglasses.

The nose on my Black Bottle better with time in the glass. The body does indeed have tantalizing hints of some fair whiskies from Isla in there, but they seem almost ruined by the grain. Kind of like a glass of great wine with about 60% MD 20/20 bum wine mixed in there. Black Bottle brand says the grain alcohol is high quality, but I have my doubts. That's how the company can charge $23 per bottle, but getting by on the grain alcohol to balance out the good stuff. One thing's for sure, the gain hooch in Black Bottle ain't no Stoli Crystal, that's for sure.

I would say that the finish is better than the initial attack on the tongue. However, even the finish doesn't end well, however. It seems as though it will, and then it trails off into a bitterness that is unforgiving. After you've drunk a bit of the stuff, it begins to seem better. It's almost as if you tastebuds magically go down about 20 IQ points from some spell or something. You start say, "Eh, it's really not bad. In fact, I think I under rated it." And then, the next day, you start out saying, "Oh Jesus, it isn't as good as I remembered it." After two more glasses, you're once again saying, "You know, I was too hard on this dram. For $23, how can I complain?" And so on.

As for the price, it is stellar. In Oregon, it's only $23. This said, it has been discontinued. So good look finding a bottle.

My attitude about this whisky is to go a notch up and get a 10 year old bottle of something decent from Islay if you crave the peat and smoke and sea air. Or go for a dram of a peated whisky from the highlands or something. Ardmore is the main single malt in Teachers. It's quite good. Or, go for Sheep Dip. It can be had in bars for an even more reasonable price than a bottle in a liquor store. I think the prices for that vatted single malt must have gone up in the past few years and the bars are still pouring from their older (cheaper) bottles.

As for comparing this bottle with Teachers or more accurately with Islay Mist, I can't do it because I have yet to taste those other blends with grain in them. I'm starting to learn towards inexpensive vatted malts like Famous Grouse, Black Grouse or Sheep Dip, rather than the blended stuff with grain alcohol.

At any rate, I'm not overly impressed with Black Bottle, even considering the excellent price value. After about 20 minutes in the glass, it comes around but it never fully satisfies. It's like a girl you take home only to realize that she is covered in zits under her clothing or is wearing a girdle to hide her fat rolls, or that she has on a padded bra under her sweater. Then, again, these days I probably would disappoint the lady who took me home. I "carry my weight" better than average, or so says my lady of the manse!

Point in fact: I haven't found myself in a one night stand situation since I was 24 years old, and those one nighters never work out well, as most of us learned the hard way, sooner or later. So I'm really not one to talk, especially when it comes to the use of crude analogies. I guess the Black Bottle brings out my blackest sardonic wit (or lack thereof)

I guess I'm lucky that I can't find that bottle down here eh? Very colourful review there...

After the 2nd bottle of this I have to conclude the same; not enough peat and too young and grainish. JW Black label is a good blend for me, still love it!

@apachearrow

I've had this bottle for awhile, figured I would review it. When this one is empty I will surly buy another, at $20 this is a perfect everyday dram, and is fantastic for this money!

I enjoy Black Bottle as well. It's $17.00 per 750ml, by me, so it's truly an exceptional value. My biggest complaints are somewhat obvious grain characteristics and it's evident youth. Given the price through, it's amazing.

It's good to know there are others out there that enjoy this whisky as much as I do! Slainte!!

@markjedi1

I can never get past the Black Bottle booth at the our local Whiskyfestival. After all, they offer two bottles for less than 40 EUR. A good deal. Amazingly, I am already at the end of my second bottle, only to realise I have not yet written proper notes. Let me try this head to head with the 10 Year Old.

The nose is fresh and fruitier than expected, while the sweet peat remains discrete in the background. A bit flowery (lavender?) and some honey. It is clear that Bunnahabhain and Deanston call the shots here. Hint of grain. Very soft.

The attack is very light. Not a full body, but still feisty. Honey again, but immediately submerged in a good dose of smoke. Sausage on the BBQ, wrapped in some bacon.

The finish is warm and smoky with a salty touch on the death bed.

Black Bottle is part of Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd for a while now. It contains malts from Islay (hence the tagline ‘The Heart of Islay’ on the label), but also several malt and grain whiskies from the rest of Scotland. Dirt cheap, but very correct introduction to peated whisky.

@Max

This was my first experience with Islay type of whisky. Quite interesting and great BfB. Very pleasant blend indeed, encouraged me to try more Islay offerings.

If you already like this one, you are in for a nice Islay journey :) Dont forget Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila ;)

@britwhiskyfan

How do you caputure the whole of Islay in one glass?

Black bottle is blend of all seven Islays. The nose has dried fruit with a hint but not overbearing peat.

The flavor is very Islay,strong complex with some sweetness, there is the usual smokeness you would expect but not as strong as single Islay malts

After the lighter hit on the palete you are suprised by the long finish with the traditional Islay character, agian the warmth is suprising with the lightness

If you are introducing someone new to Islay or for that matter single malts this is a great starter. All of the flavor without quite the same intensity. One of the better blend and certinly great value.

@Rosal

Nose: Medium peat, some citrus, and medicinal.

Taste: Starts off sweet and ends with smoke and peat.

Finish: The smoke sets in and lingers

@JeffC

After reading about this, I thought I would give it a try. This is labeled as a blended Scotch whisky consisting of Islay malts.

The nose is not particularly strong, with a slight note of something sweet like heather or honey. The mouthfeel is rather thin compared to some other Islay malts and is not particularly oily or viscous which I find a bit of a drawback. The taste I find slightly earthy with, like the nose, a tinge of something sweet.

The finish is perhaps to me the most interesting part of this with smoke and pepper coming on to a medium fade.

I would definitely recommend this, especially to those new to Islay malts or blend fans, or even those passionate Islay drinkers that just want a change of pace.

D

This is the first time I have ever tasted a Blend that has made me go "Oh Blends can be better than Single Malts."

The aroma is spectacular, just enough Islay smells to know you mean business, Smoke, Peat, Grapefruit, Heather and Lavender. The body is nice light and rich, with flavors of peat, caramel, candy and Sea Salt to give the sweetness a wonderful pop.

@Kalekas

Excuse the dreadful pun in the review title, but that's the most obvious characteristic of this delicious 'blend of all the Islay malts'. I quote from memory - indeed this review is a remembrance of the many drams of Black Bottle because I picked it up by chance while I was in Gozo and I can't get it here in Spain.

Once you adjust to the mouth feel of this fine blend (and by God it is an oily big charmer) you next appreciate the lovely balance between grain and malt spirit: it's replete with what Jim Murray describes as young, 'nippy' grain balanced with a touch of smoke.

I'd gone in search of a bottle of Jameson's as my holiday tipple and a dusty Black Bottle sitting nearby tweaked my curiosity and impelled me to try something new rather than the reliable old friend and standby.

I'm so glad I decided to take a punt on this one because it was absolutely delicious. I finished the bottle with a sense of regret that I probably wouldn't find another bottle of this stuff until I return to Gozo.

So if you see a Black Bottle sitting on the shelves of a bar or in a shop, and you haven't yet tried it, do give it a go. In my opinion it's up there with the best of the blends.

What I find stunning about Black Bottle is the quality to value ratio.

Every bar in the world should be serving this (or Bailie Nicol Jarvie) instead of the same old generic blends (you know the ones).

For now, however, it remains the preserve of those folks 'in the know'.

Thanks for a great review. I try not to buy this bottle too often because then the other blends get left out :) When I am having a "blends" dram session with friends this fantastic blend along with Teachers Ballantines 12yo and Chivas 18yo always tend to get finished first.

@Dougful

I hadn't even heard of Black Bottle prior to seeing it featured in connosr.com's beginner's whisky cabinet article, but boy I'm glad it was there. I had to do a little searching to find it in Kansas City, but managed to find a source that charges only $17.99. Cheap even for brand name blends.

Nose: Buttery, soft peat, nail polish remover (in a good way), very very light charcoal. I have heard that Bunnahabhain is the main single malt in here and it really shows in the nose. To me it smells to me mostly like a mix of that and maybe Caol Ila. Short legs.

Palate: Smooth. Baked Yam (lightly sweet and earthy), light brine, wafts of mild smoke, oak. Light to medium bodied. Very pleasant.

Finsih: Sweet, black pepper, charcoal, warming. It lingers but is mild.

This is a very tasty and unique blend and I believe belongs in everyones cabinet. I'm giving this a 7.5 as I believe it holds its own with other more expensive blends. It isn't Johnny Walker Black, but it is close and also less than half the price. Add another point or so (8.5) if you want to consider the price in the rating.

@jeanluc

I stopped in at my new local pub for a cheeky dram on way home last night. Conveniently it has an excellent selection of nearly 100 whiskies to choose from (much more than I previously thought).

Of all the fine whisky brands that stood tall in front of me Black Bottle, a diminutive figure with low slouched shoulders and a fat neck, caught my eye in the corner.

It's a blend of whiskies from Islay - a sacred place revered by whisky lovers and worshiped for it's single malts - apparently Black Bottle includes whisky from all seven distilleries on the island.

Not much further information is available on what proportions go into the blend, though I can tell you that it's most closely aligned with Bunnahabhain who are owned by the same group, Burn Stewart.

So, an Islay blend.... intriguing!

First up it's not overly smokey - the characteristics you may associated with Islay - the peat is there but it's soft and sweet.

Nose: fruity and light with a peat smoke infusion and a hint of Honeysuckle. It's 40% so you don't get any strong wafts of alcohol.

Taste: Soft and velvety (it was slightly warm in the glass being a hot day), waves of light smoke. There is something both sweet and savory about it, like caramelised onions.

Finish: Lingering with a honied sweetness and light glowing ember of charcoal smoke.

A very enjoyable whisky and excellent value. A worthy addition to any collection.

I agree this is very nice and my first intro into Islay malts. Although I only have the regular version I am going to try the 10 year old in a few days when I visit someone that I know has it so perhaps then I can do a comparison. I also need to write a review at some point of the regular version which I have had a few times now. If you are looking for an intro to Islays, I would say that for about the same price this is is vastly superior to the McClelland's Islay which is rumored to be a young Bowmore.

I have tried the 10 year old version a few times now. Unfortunately I don't have the regular version with me to do a side by side comparison and am going off memory. The 10 year old in my mind has a fuller, less watery mouth feel. The taste profile I find similar albeit a bit smoother. The nose is very similar. All in all I would recommend.

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