Old Blends: Black & White, Late 1940s/Early 1950s

There are a lot of things I post on the blog that most of my old whisky readership has no interest in: recipes, restaurant reviews, pictures of markets, reviews of old blended whiskies. Accordingly, here is a review of a Black & White released sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. I expect it will be enjoyed by the tens of visitors who also read my review of a late 1940s/early 1950s Ballantine’s back in December. As for myself, I will be happy if I like this one as much as I liked that one. This is not actually my first review of a Black & White from the days of yore. Back in 2013, just a few months into the blog’s existence, I’d reviewed one from the 1960s. That was an unscored review but my notes indicate that I quite liked it. Let’s see how this one fares.

Black & White (43.4%; Late 1940s/Early 1950s release; from a bottle split)

Nose: Mild sweet notes (orange) mixed with putty and a decent whack of peat (though not medicinal). The peat gets more organic as it sits (dead rat). Some brine in there too with time. Gets maltier with a few drops of water and some mildly honeyed notes emerge as well.

Palate: Leads with the peat here too (carbon paper) and there’s quite a bit of char as well. The texture is quite rich for an old bottle at 43.4%. On the second sip there’s some bitter lime peel and some of that putty from the early nose. With more time the citrus moves in the direction of orange peel. Water knocks the char back and pulls out sweeter notes here as well (orange liqueur).

Finish: Long. The charred notes go on and on. With time some of the citrus hangs out longer as well and there’s also the familiar metallic note that often shows up in older bottles. As on the palate with water.

Comments: Certainly peatier than the 1960s version was (as per my prior review). There’s not much more evidence of grain in this either than there was in the late 40s/early 50s Ballantine’s. This is very nice too but more one-note than the Ballantine’s, though water does bring out more fruit. More proof that whisky drinkers really had it good back then. If contemporary Black & White were this peaty and malt-forward. I’d not be chasing young peated malts.

Rating: 85 points.


One thought on “Old Blends: Black & White, Late 1940s/Early 1950s

  1. excellent review. I’ve got a handful of these from the early 40’s trough to the 60’s – trying to amass 2 of each so I can open them knowing I have another on in the chamber if it is good. Beautiful looking things too. A favorite bottle ever since I noticed it in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold where Richard Burton has it on hand.


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