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One of the finest whiskies I’ve ever tasted, and certainly the greatest blend I’ve tried, Black Bull 30 yo is an entire chocolate caramel factory in a bottle. I was fortunate enough to have blind samples of this plus a couple of premium single malts (IBs: HP 23 and Mortlach 21), and rather surprised myself when I chose the blend out of the three*. But then, it is Bull 30, after all.
The magic number for BB 30 is 50: it’s bottled at 50% ABV, and it’s a unique blend of 50% malt and 50% grain whiskies. It’s also a blend for which the grain whisky serves a purpose greater than its usual filler-and-smoother role. In part because all blending takes place before a 30-year rest in sherry casks, the grain is fully integrated into the flavor profile in a most complex way. There’s nothing here that tastes like a supporting player for the A-list stars, if you know what I mean.
Nose: Deep, rich, thick, complex, and just too marvelous for words. A malty caramel bomb with plenty of chocolate underneath. Also strong traces of wood, sherry, citrus, and banana cream pie. But it’s what’s lurking down underneath that makes this a whopper of a nose. Earthy, grassy, leathery tones emerge after a few minutes from under the surface, like a string bass making a late entrance to and add a deep, rumbling texture to a 100-piece orchestra. Complex chord structures, and everything’s in perfect harmony. Best nose I’ve ever experienced? Maybe. Most complex? Definitely.
Palate: The charge of the not-so-light brigade. Thick, syrupy, malty arrival that awakens any taste buds that have been slumbering for the past 10 years. Everything that’s on the nose is here, plus nuts, oranges, cherries, coffee, and peppery spices. The long finish is a perfect balance of caramel, cinnamon, and oak.
This is a blend that will impress even the snobbiest of single-malt snobs. Expect to pay about the same as for a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue. Unlike the Blue, however, the Bull is worth every penny.
(*It was a close call with the Mortlach.)