Revelations Old and New

I really enjoy a good tweet tasting.  This was a cracker!

A chance to sample some of the best whiskies, some I am already aware of, others which have been under the radar, some only recently released. Last nights Duncan Taylor tasting with Tweet Tastings and Steve Rush of the Whisky Wire delivered on all of these.

Duncan Taylor is one of my favourite Independent blenders and bottlers.  Established originally in 1938 they went through a series of owners including New Yorker Abe Rosenberg in the 60’s before being bought by the current owner in 2002.  Whisky merchant Euan Shand returned Duncan Taylor & Co. to Scottish hands when he acquired the company complete with its prized collection of single malts, single grains and aged blended whiskies.

Duncan Taylor own the Black Bull brand which dates back to 1894 and was a casualty of Prohibition before being resurrected by Duncan Taylor in 2009 since when, it has enjoyed many accolades including best blended whisky, golds, double golds and many other awards on an annual basis.

I would attribute this  to its release as a premium blend, meaning the single malt content is higher than normal, the grain content is consequently lower, the abv is higher and it is sold unchillfiltered.  Whilst all of these are major plus points more importantly, it is also incredibly well blended.   Black Bull is simply (well nothing this good is ever simple) just right.

The tweet tasting started by featuring the current 12 year old and the newly released peated.  I could not wait! Here are my notes:


Image courtesy of Duncan Taylor

Black Bull Peated Edition 50%

Nose: smoky, earthy , salty, stone fruits, peanut brittle, floral almost herbal note, sweet wine, very malt led lovely blend something quite special.

Palate: syrup,  mossy peat, fruity, salt and pepper, nicely smoky,  creamy citrus, lemon puff biscuits with aboldtouch of liquorice, delivering through a great mouthfeel.

Newly released, this is a fabulous blend and will go straight onto my whisky shelf – the shelf where the bottle is replaced whenever it is finished.



image courtesy of `duncan Taylor



Black Bull 12 year old 50%

Nose: nougat, light cedar note, tobacco, peanut brittle, vanilla citrus, legs galore! I love these more complex notes on the nose and the spirit over grain blend.

Palate: well fired toffee , plums, pepper, nutmeg, nougat, stroopwoffel biscuits, buttered toast lots of smoke nice flavour layering.  There is a lovely  creamy note like a vanilla custard  a hint of waxiness which is great if limited to a very few distilleries spirits.  




Image courtesy of Duncan Taylor


Rare Old Grain Girvan 12 year old 53.8%

Nose: grain, lots of lovely intense grain notes, like sticking your nose into a silo … nice biscuity edge, malty, nutty, real bakery aroma buns with hints of icing.

Palate: creme caramel,  butterscotch, oats, banana nesquik, rose Turkish delight, citrus, vanilla.  A very well matured multi-dimensional grain whisky.  Balancing spirit and cask to perfection.



Image courtesy of Duncan Taylor

Glenallachie 2011 Octave 10 year old   UK Exclusive 55.2%

An Octave in created by taking a Sherry Butt and making 8 smaller casks out of it.  This results in a greatly increased wood and air exposure for the spirit.   Both theoak and Olorosso influences are very noticable in this whisky but are well tamed ,creating a sophisticated, rich malt.

Nose: grassy, bitter citrus note, coffee, walnut , chocolate orange  a little tight on the nose  but complex nevertheless as it gradually releases its wonders.

Palate: Pfeffernüsse biscuits , dark chocolate, liquorice, dry tannins, sherry, oak, savoury gammon notes, distinctively Glenallachie but different. 

A rich funky Christmas dram for a long contemplate in front of a roaring log fire.



Image courtesy of DuncanTaylor

Tullibardine Battlehill 8 year old 46%

Nose:  Fresh  cereal note, croissant, raisins, pear drops, sauvignon blanc note typical of Tullibardine spirit,  delicate and complex, salted caramel, icing sugar, summer berries, a slow burner.  Building to a bright crescendo.

Palate:  variety of citrus notes, then confectionary, refreshers, spearmint, foam bananas, bubblegum, becoming creamier and more unctuous with time – Cremola foam.


Such a distinctive dram from a distillery slightly under the radar.  It is sour, bitter and sweet in equal measure wonderfully layered and complex the essence of the distilleries spirit finished in a great cask.

This was my favourite of the evening (only closely edging the Glenallachie to my taste), but I have to say both blends were fabulous as was the Girvan I would not hesitate to recommend every one of these for your XMas stocking!  These were 5 quality whiskies.

Many thanks to Duncan Taylor for the tasting set provided via Tweet Tastings.