Are they Master Blenders at Blackadder, or mad scientists?

Whatever you want to call them, or however you care to think of them—me, I'm going with mad scientists—what is not up for discussion is the exceptional quality of their work, or the cult-like following their fierce commitment to process has engendered.

Among Scotch hounds, each hotly-anticipated of their Black Snake series triggers a frenzy roughly akin to a run on the banks.

What makes these single malts special is a process that is either insane or inspired, or maybe a little of both.

The whisky begins its maturation in first-fill casks that once housed bourbon. Left alone to mature, this mash could reasonably be expected to acquire a pleasing depth, but Blackadder does not stop there. Now begins the tinkering. The crew puts three of these casks into Oloroso Sherry butts, where they remain for a year. Two-thirds of each of these casks, or vats, as they call them, get bottled.

Fini? Ha. Not even close.

Now these sly sorcerers add two more ex-bourbon casks, always of the same whisky. The result is left alone to mature for about a year before, once more, the crew bottles two-thirds of the vat—without chill-filtration, and with no color added. (A third is always left behind, for the next bottling: in this way, each Black Snake is a little like a sourdough that contains a piece of every sourdough that precedes it.)

Mad science doesn’t get much madder—but what must be remembered is that all this tinkering is in service of concentrating the alcohol (this Black Snake, the third bottling from their most recent vatting, clocks in at a whopping 121 proof).

At the same time it resembles nothing else out there in the marketplace, it also offers all of the qualities we look for in a great single malt: the richness, the complexity, the spice, the long, smooth finish.

This is a keeper, this one, and more than that: it is one to come back to, again and again, to discover new colorations, new secrets.

We anticipate this is going to go fast, so don't delay!



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