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Now let's look at the 43% Black Bush mini, which is also older but (and I'm guessing here) a little more recent than the 40% mini I just reviewed.
The colour is a medium gold (perhaps a shade darker than the 40% mini I just reviewed, but not as dark as today's version). Rather fruity on the nose with underripe bananas, papaya, rum raisin and milk chocolate. Traces of sherried oak. The malt content seems pretty strong. A bit too young and spirity; unfortunately, water doesn't do much. Interesting but could have more oomph.
On the palate it seems quite young, but with a malty sweetness, plus more underripe bananas and a slight hint of peat. The higher ABV seems more apparent on the palate than on the nose. Liquorice all-sorts and cotton candy. Even maltier with water. Rather nice, but still too young.
The finish is a little chalky, with buttered raisin bread and some mouth-pulling tannins. The slightly higher ABV has improved things, and this is a bit richer than the 40% mini I just reviewed. But it still doesn't hit the depth of the current bottling. What is interesting is that I am getting the sense that there is more malt in these minis than in the current blend, which intuitively might make you think that they must be better; but that is not the case at all. So rare that an older bottling is inferior to a current bottling! Though I detect less malt in today's version, its richness really comes through (though the older versions seem slightly peated). Maybe the older minis were made before Diageo purchased the distillery; if so, then for once they are doing something right.