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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Woaaah Black Betty (bam ba Lam...)




Things may seem a little quiet here at Caskstrength lately. That's not because we've been lazy in our pursuit of whisky perfection. Far from it actually. The last couple of weeks have seen us channeling all our energies into on very specific project.

A project so exciting that it could tear the roof off modern whisky blending.

A project that, once sampled will reduce your tastebuds to jibbering tearful wrecks at the mere thought of its sheer quality.

A project that.... (ok that's enough unnecessary build up, thank you, Ed)

Yes, i'm talking about the long awaited (well a couple of weeks at least) vatting of the many samples we collected during our superb visit to Islay's Feis Ile at the end of May.

'Black Betty' - Black Bottle, but a bit more sexy and rock n' roll???

What started out as a bit of a running joke has turned into a real labour of love. From the 100 or so whiskies we sampled, the cream of the crop were swiftly stored in sample bottles and then carefully blended in various quantities at a secret lab in Zurich. (Zurich St, South London)


(our glamorous assistant feverishly tweaks at the Gas Chromatograph, searching for an answer...)

Below is a list of what made the final cut in Black Betty and as you'll see- we didnt skimp on the quality! We have aimed to get as many of the Feis Ile Bottlings into it as possible, as well as a sumptuous array of peated treats...

Ardbeg Still Young, Uigeadail,
Ardbeg Single Casks, 1375, 1378, 772, 1189 & 1190 !
Bruichladdich Octomore sherry finish

Bruichladdich First Growth Yquem & Latour finishes

Bruichladdich Feis Ile Bottling 2009

Bowmore Feis Ile bottling 2009 (1999)

Bowmore 1988 port matured
Caol Ila 10 yo unpeated

Caol Ila distillery only bottling
Caol Ila Feis Ile bottling

Glen Moray 1962 (Celtic Heartlands)

Kilchoman 3 yo Sherry finish & 3 yo fresh bourbon bottling

Laphroaig- Quarter Cask, 30 yo, 27 yo, and Cairdeas 2009 Feis Ile
Lagavulin - 2000, 1997 1993, 1966, 1969 Feis Ile bottling and 21 yo!!
Port Askaig Caskstrength & 25 yo

&
Port Ellen Official 1st release !!


(the Bunnahabhain FI bottling sadly never made it, but it is there in spirit...)



Black Betty finally lives and breathes!!!
Arise my dear... and conquer all before you...

Umm. wait a minute. Does it actually taste any good?? That's a hell of a lot of good whisky to be 'a wastin'... let's see...

Black Betty (bam ba lam)- Vatted malt - strength ??

Nose:
From the deepest islay peat bogs, something murky and dark steps forth... heavy peat, light peat, some medicinal notes, younger cereal whiffs, older classic swimming pool peat, woody oak and some fresh sweet fruits.... wow. How did that happen? Everything seems to have its own space. Some distinct wine, butterscotch and mint humbug aromas are also present, which give a pleasant youthful top-note, against the backdrop of very old and oaky whiskies.

Palate: Ok... this is the moment of truth... eyes closed everyone:
Licorice, lemon zest, passion fruit, sherbet, red wine notes, lots of oak and then sweet floral bursts, countered by a Caol Ila-a-like coal/sooty note. As bizarre as it sounds this is actually drinkable! Hooray! we didn't ruin loads of great samples after all!!!

Finish: Dry wine notes give way and the floral notes just keep on developing, partly I think down to the Bowmore 1988 Port matured sample which we may have been a little heavy handed with... but then you get the same rainbow of different peat flavours we first nosed, particularly that glorious soft gentle peat present in the older Ardbegs. Pretty damn good.

Overall: Clearly this could have gone totally tits up, but the whole affair has felt like a really worthwhile experience - 4 friends, lots of great whiskies and one goal... to have some fun and create something a little chaotic, but eminently drinkable.

We'll be giving away a sample bottle of this in the coming weeks so you can decide for yourselves if we wasted our time!!!