We’re excited to tell you about the arrival of some brand new expressions of Black Bottle blended whisky - the Black Bottle Alchemy series! There's two new editions to tell you about: Black Bottle Alchemy Batch #1 Double Cask and Black Bottle Alchemy Batch #2 Island Smoke.
Black Bottle is a historic blended whisky brand with roots going back to the 19th century, when the three Graham brothers took up tea blending at an Aberdeenshire merchant. Thankfully for us, the brothers soon diversified into blending whisky as well, and Gordon Graham began producing a high quality blended Scotch assembled from local Highland malt and grain whiskies.
Famously, Black Bottle was sold in green glass between 1914 and 2013, as the original black bottles for the blend were sourced from Germany, which became problematic when the Great War began.
In the modern era, Black Bottle changed hands several times in the last 30 years. Allied Distillers sold the brand to Highland Distilleries in 1995, at which point the blend recipe was radically altered: Black Bottle became an Islay-based blend with malt whiskies from each of Islay’s distilleries, but with the majority of the malt component coming from Bunnahabhain.
Both Bunnahabhain and Black Bottle were subsequently sold to Burn Stewart in 2003, and in 2013, a few months after Burn Stewart was itself acquired by current owners Distell, the decision was taken to change Black Bottle’s recipe once again, refocusing back towards the Highland recipe, toning down the smokiness but retaining some of the Islay whiskies, including (of course) Bunnahabhain.
This latest incarnation of the enduring Black Bottle blend features certain modern methodologies, including alligator charred casks and virgin oak finishing, and to celebrate the relaunch of Black Bottle, the blend was finally returned to black glass bottles.
That's the history out of the way and brings us up to today - let's look at these two exciting new expressions of Black Bottle. Christened the Black Bottle Alchemy series, these two new editions really show that Black Bottle, despite its traditional roots, likes to dip its toe in the river of modernity every now and then.
First up is Black Bottle Alchemy Batch #1 Double Cask - this has been assembled from a mix of sherry-finished single malts and a 12-year-old red wine cask matured grain whisky and seems certain to appeal to modern whisky drinkers who like a hint of red berries on their whisky.
Black Bottle Alchemy Batch #2 Island Smoke, meanwhile, sounds like it will go down well with fans of more traditional whiskies. The malt component of Island Smoke features over 20 different ingredients - topped off by a 1984 blended malt - and includes plenty of peated malts that dovetail with the grain component to give a fine balance to the whisky’s delivery on the palate.
In welcome news, both of these Black Bottle Alchemy editions have been bottled at 46.3%, just like Distell’s standard single malt whiskies - and best of all, the retail price of both these whiskies is £26.