Quick Hits: Two Old Blends…Sort Of

Sort of, because one of these is a blend from very long ago but probably doesn’t have particularly aged whisky in it; and the other is a recently released vatted malt with a lot of older whisky in it. The first is a Black & White from the late 1950s or early 1960s (my source was not sure), the other is Samaroli’s Evolution.

Black & White is one of the first Scotch labels I remember. We lived in Iraq in the late 70s where far more Scotch whisky was available (and affordable) than in India and pretty much every famous blend passed through my father’s bar during those years. But as we were, and are, a dog-crazed family, Black & White’s iconic label with the terriers was always the one that drew my eye. Samaroli’s Evolution, on the other hand, has no Proustian significance for me. 
I have only an ounce or so of each so these are less formal reviews sans ratings.

1. Black & White, late 50s/early 60s (43.4%; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: A little metallic, a little grassy and a little peaty. Make that more than a little peaty; a little bit of brine too and a little sweetness.

Palate: Pretty much as on the nose but with far less peat than I was expecting. Grassy sweetness and then that metallic note. Wait, with the second and third sip there’s far more peat (minerally rather than smoky or phenolic). Indeed, after a bit the peat is the main story. There’s also the taste of an old-school uncoated tablet on the mouth.

Finish: Medium. The metallic note is clearest here (what they call “Old Bottle Effect”, I guess). Peat expands on the finish too.

Comments: Not that I drank whisky as a child but this is what I remember whisky smelling like when my father and his friends drank it. The minerally peat here is not very dissimilar to some notes I found in the 1980 Dallas Dhu and 1997 Ardmore I reviewed a couple of months ago. But the contemporary malt this most puts me in mind of is Springbank/Longrow. I wonder what contemporary B&W tastes like.

Thanks to bpbleus for the sample!

Evolution2. Samaroli Evolution, 2011 (45%; Samaroli; from a sample received in a swap)

The 2011 edition of the Evolution vatting was only released in the US and as per Samaroli’s website contains 10-40 yo whiskies aged in sherry and bourbon casks. As per K&L these are the whiskies in the vatting (not sure what the source of information is but assume it must be from the importer/producer): “The blend includes: ’57 Mortlach, ’59, ’62, ’65 Springbank, ’64 Bruichladdich, ’67 Laphroaig Sherry, ’68, ’71 Glenlivet Sherry, ’70 Laphroaig, ’71 Glen Garioch Sherry, ’73 Longrow, ’74 Longrow Sherry, ’74 Ardbeg, ’75 Glen Garioch, ’76 Ardbeg, ’77 Ardmore, ’77 Caol Ils, [sic] ’78 Talisker Sherry, ’79 Springbank Sherry, ’79 Glen Grant Sherry, ’80 Highland Park Sherry, ’81 Port Ellen, ’84 Highland Park, ’85 Springbank Sherry, ’87 Longrow, ’88 Lagavulin and ’89 Bowmore.”

Quite an impressive compilation, but what do they add up to?

Nose: Very nice. Sherry and fruit: raisins, lemons, gooseberries and a big basket of orchard fruit (apricots, apples, a bit of peach). Gets a little more tropical after that with a hint of melon and some tinned pineapple; some orange too maybe. The orange gets a little leathery after a bit.

Palate: Again, just wonderfully balanced. All that fruit plus light raisins, toffee, and a hint of maple syrup. Begins to get briny after a bit. After a while the citrus is the most assertive of the fruit and I’m getting a little lick of smoke as well.

Finish: Quite brief. Mostly the sherry sweetness and then some salt.

Comments: Very classy stuff. If you’re looking to spend more than $300 on a vatted whisky this is the one for you….I’m partly serious–this is the best of the US release Samarolis I’ve had and if you want to spend stupid money you could do far worse. I assume there wasn’t much of those old Islays in here because I didn’t get anything phenolic. And, blind, I would have said this was all sherried.

Thanks to Patrick for the sample!


One thought on “Quick Hits: Two Old Blends…Sort Of

  1. I’ve always wanted to try the evolution.. The list of whiskies in the bottle is right on the label I think. I read that the new evolution that was released recently is cask strength.


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