Category Archives: Black Bottle

Black Bottle (old style)

Bought – Robbie’s Drams, 29th May, 2014

94/100 – Whisky Bible 2006
89/100 – Ralfy, of
Review: – Ralfy – Black Bottle – YouTube (March 2009)

Having recently bought the new 2013 revamped version of the Black Bottle, I was determined to track down the old style. This lead me to Robbie’s Drams in Ayr, and their online shop. At £14.99 it was a very good price for a whisky that’s no longer made, so I bought it. Tesco had been selling them off last year for £12 but sadly they’d all gone by the time I got there.

In 2006 this old version of Black Bottle won one of Jim Murray’s ‘Whisky Bible Awards’ with the score of 94/100. He said of the taste “the outcome on the palate is explosive: rampaging peaty malts put firmly in their place by crisp grain with a unique mouthfeel style” and “a blend that has to be tasted to be believed….a must for the sideboard.”

In Ralfy’s YouTube review from 2009, he says the blend is made up from all the Islay malts, excluding Kilchoman, which was too young to be used in 2009. Quite a change from the more Speyside-based Black Bottle we have today. Although I like the new version, a criticism when compared with the old is how ‘thin’ it has become. Hardly surprising when you think how thick Islay malts can be. But one man’s thin is another man’s sophisticated. I will have to compare and contrast.

Black Bottle old 70cl

Black Bottle (version since 2013)

Bought – Sainsbury’s, 20th May, 2014

83/100 – Ralfy, of
Review: – Ralfy – Black Bottle – YouTube

Now here’s a controversial blend, at least to those who used to love the old version of Black Bottle. Last year it had a complete overhaul, changing the blend, the bottle shape and even the bottle colour! It won new fans but sent some of the old dramsters into a froth of despair! How could they ruin their beloved Black Bottle?! Well, from reading reviews, I found some PR (probably taken from the blender’s website), which explained that the new blend is a throwback to the original formula, more in keeping with the recipe created by the Graham brothers in Aberdeen at the turn of the 19th century. And the new bottle pays homage to the early days too. The old-style, dumpy bottle was green but this new one is black, which is where the blend got its name. So, instead of this being a modern marketing ploy, it’s actually a new version that pays homage to the original Black Bottle.

In March 2014 I tried this new blend in several bars in Aberdeen, Scotland, and it tasted fantastic! I vowed then to get a bottle, and I did. Well done Sainsbury for stocking it, and putting it on special offer! As I’ve said before, I’m more of a Speyside fan than Islay so the changes in the new Black Bottle work well for me.