Monday, 21 March 2011

#399 - "Skalking" The Black Bull

Wow... As I start writing this at 05:55 in the morning, a glorious full moon is beaming over Amsterdam and the birds are already chirping their little hearts out. Spring is obviously in the air, and that's about time if you ask me...

It seems that I've suffered from even more "bad nose days" than usual, which means that a massive pile of samples has been growing on my shelves. Now that my nose has opened up on the first day of Spring, I want to take the opportunity so have a look at the most overdue samples on my shelves. Quite a few professional tasters have informed me that the morning is the best time for tasting, and since I don't have to work today I might as well start drinking early. Not just because I CAN, but because those will be my last drams in a while... 

I've written about my struggle to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Since January 1, I've managed to reduce my weight from 112 to 106 kilo's, but now I've been stuck around that level for almost three weeks. So, it seems I'll have to intensify my efforts to get below 100 kilo's. And now I've figured out that I could try to use my "malt madness" as a motivational tool to help me get to that point. I'm not always very comfortable with grey area's, so the concept of "drinking less" is sometimes hard to translate into the real world for me - partly because there's lots of wiggle room for those of us that are smart enough to outsmart ourselves. 

However, there's very little wiggle room in the rule "I won't drinking any more whisky at all until my scale shows a number below 100.0 kilo's". That means that I'll probably be dry for at least a few weeks - and more probably until the end of May at least. The first few kilo's are relatively easy to lose, but further weight loss often requires more effort. So, I'd better make these few last drams memorable ones... 

And I guess they don't come a lot more memorable than a whisky that dropped in my mailbox two weeks ago; the Black Bull 40yo Batch #2 (41.9%, Duncan Taylor, Blended Scotch, 957 Bts., 2011). Indeed, it's a blend - but one thing that makes it more interesting than most other blends is the fact that Duncan Taylor is candid about the ingredients. The Black Bull is said to contain Invergordon grain whisky and Tamdhu, Bunnahabhain and Glenlivet malt whisky. Serge sampled it for Whiskyfun a few weeks ago and gave it 90 points. Let's see if I like it just as much... The nose is full and sweet with plenty of coconut. Nicely polished with subtle fruits. Unusually expressive for a blend. On the palate it starts off sweet and smooth - that's probably the Invergordon again - with again the coconut. The nose develops very nicely over time with whiffs of glue and spices. A fruity element remains present as well - more pineapple and perhaps even sweet tangerine. Quite delicate, but utterly lovely. 

It's very pleasant on the palate as well, although the slightly gritty mouth feel keeps it just outside the 90 points range for me, despite the glorious de  velopment over time. On my own rating scale I'd go for 89 points - but if you take into consideration that I often score whiskies two or three points below Serge these days, one could argue that I actually liked this Black Bull #2 even more than Serge did... ;-)

Well, that was a very nice way to start the morning - and the Spring of 2011.
I had actually planned to proceed the tasting with 10 whiskies from the Tomatin distillery, but I'm already feeling the effects of the Black Bull. So, I decided to limit myself to just one of the most recent samples that Tomatin's Graham Nicolson was kind enough to send me some time ago; the
Tomatin 36yo 1973/2010 (44%, OB, refill American oak, decanter). And I won't bother you with the tasting notes here either - please check out the Malt Maniacs Monitor for my notes in case you're interested... All I have to say right now is that it's another bloody great dram that scored 89 points, just like the Black Bull.

Further tasting reports, as well as details about THE SAMPLE-PALOOZA EVENT will follow in log entry #400 and beyond - which will be published shortly after I've managed to lose six additional kilo's of superfluous body weight. You won't have to wait very long for other updates on Malt Madness though - I hope to publish a brand new mAlmanac around April 1.

Sweet drams,