Duncan Taylor is an award winning independent bottler in Scotch, and the maker of Black Bull Blended Scotch. I had a chance to visit them earlier in the year, not realizing at the time that their rather modestly size bottling facility was among the largest among Scottish independent bottlers.
Independent bottlers purchase barrels of whisky from distilleries. They then age these casks in their own facilities, and bottle the product based on when they feel it is ready. Bottlers like Duncan Taylor have a wide range of Scotch available. They have barrels from most of the large distilleries, and they also have barrels from distilleries that have long-since closed. Duncan Taylor specifically is said to be one of the largest private owners of whisky casks, including barrels of Scotch that are over forty years old.
They're also the maker of the award winning Black Bull 12 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky. While single malt Scotch must be 100% malt barley, blended Scotch is typically part malt barley, and part grain, offering a smoother, sweeter whisky. In the case of Black Bull 12, the blend is 50% malt and 50% grain. While sweet, it is also bottled at 50% alcohol.
Black Bull quickly became a favourite go-to in my whisky cabinet, so much so that its quantity has declined quickly since my purchase. I have a feeling this will have a regular appearance in my whisky cabinet (Sidenote: As with most products I seem to review, this one is also on the 'limited supply' list at the LCBO).
So how does it taste? The nose is a little sharp, but quite welcoming with milder notes of vanilla, cereal, and caramel. The latter scent reminded me of a light bourbon. On the palate the nose carries through with similar flavours, but with more depth. There's a nice spice to the drink, and you can taste the woodiness. The palate is heavier with caramel and dried fruits, and the finish is long and sweet with a touch of bitterness. As mentioned, it is bottled at 50% but I don't feel that is obvious when drinking it.
This is an excellent expression of a more complex blended scotch, and available at the LCBO for $68.70
Written by Mark Bylok
Mark Bylok enjoys his vices. When travelling, he can frequently be seen enjoying the ‘national’ drink of choice and going to traditional bars. As an avid eater, he frequently decides where to go or stay based on the restaurants he wants to visit. Whether it’s jumping off a bridge, or repelling down a mountainside, Mark likes to explore all the locations that take advantage of a destination’s natural landscape. When he gets homesick, he sneaks off to a local British pub that serves beer on tap. At home, he has an extensive whisky collection and he’s a bit of a tech-head.