Whiskyfun
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June 24, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Ben Nevis Three Ways
Ben Nevis: what's to say about it except that it remains one of Scotland's more distinctive and characterful makes, still resolutely 'Highland' in style. Now, not every bottling is a high scorer, but it's a whisky that is hardly ever boring and always entertaining. And, of course, there are many great ones as well. Lets see what we find today...

 

Ben Nevis 'McDonald's Traditional' (46%, OB, 185 years anniversary, 2012) Ben Nevis 'McDonald's Traditional' (46%, OB, 185 years anniversary, 2012) Now, I know there are already notes for this one on Whiskyfun, but there also some different batches in my experience so let’s just say this counts as a separate batch. Colour: Light amber. Nose: Dusty and a little sooty at first. Notes of clay, earth and drying phenolics from the peated component used with the aim of 'replicating' an older style of Ben Nevis. Quite a pleasant nose, leafy with pipe tobacco some light wood ash and something like greengages and chlorophyll. There is a slight raisiny, botrytis aroma arising after a while as well - quite a pleasing sherry quality overall. Some pears baked in Cognac and a little camphor and gentle waxiness. Mouth: Tar, resin, mild, ashy peat notes and more light green fruitiness. A little green pepper, some cereal notes and more raisiny sweetness that balances out nicely with the smokiness. More leafy and earthy notes and then some sort of banana aspect which is quite a 'Ben Nevisy' thing if you ask me. Finish: Good length, perhaps not too long but still with a nicely balanced mix of cereal, raisins, tobacco and a little oily peatiness. Comments: I think this whole thing about 'replicating' older styles of whiskies is generally rather nonsensical and technically impossible. However, I do think this bottle harks back to something a bit 'old school' and that they did a very good job on the composition. I find it highly quaffable in the way that a good and not too complex session whisky should be. I also think its a fine example of a good NAS bottling, I don't think it was too expensive upon release. SGP: 445 - 85 points.  

 

Ben Nevis 16 yo 1977/1993 (60.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Ben Nevis 16 yo 1977/1993 (60.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Colour: Gold. Nose: Pretty closed and tight at first nosing. Some sunflower oil and wild flowers. Maybe some cereals and notes of concrete. Develops with some white stone fruits and more floral notes then goes on with some light waxiness and more assorted oils. Very pleasant actually and surprisingly notable, it's just a bit slow at full strength. Maybe some wee touches of aged dry Gewurztraminer. With water: more floral with notes of pollen and lilies, a little cured meats, some honey. Also quite mineral, globally not a textbook Ben Nevis but very pleasant. Mouth: A little hot but nicely buttery with some dried herbs, a little cornflour, more various oils such as light olive oil and rapeseed oil. Goes on with notes of quince, more aged Gewurz, assorted drying spices and a nice, savoury bready / yeasty note. Perhaps some long aged Champagne. With water: buttered toast, brioche, more dried spices, star anise and more drying mineral notes. Quite austere really but pleasingly direct and taught in its structure. Finish: Quite long on minerals, pebbles, a little chalk and more notes of pollen, some beeswax and a little green fruitiness. Comments: It's a bit of a challenging one this. Quite austere and difficult, pretty much the epitome of unsexy and un-modern whisky. However, that's not to say it isn't good or that I don't like it, it's just more an in an 'intellectual' dram that makes demands of you. SGP: 263 - 83 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 32 yo 1972/2004 (52.3%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, hogshead, cask #616) Ben Nevis 32 yo 1972/2004 (52.3%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, hogshead, cask #616) Colour: Amber. Nose: Beautifully dry and earthy at first with dried mushrooms and umami paste. Evidently a sherry hogshead as it goes on with notes of figs, plum sauce and a lovely, resinous camphor quality. Little notes of wild strawberry and various fruit syrups and liqueurs. Perhaps some treacle and toffee sponge (again I should know). With water: Softer and wider with an unexpected heathery note, not dissimilar to a heather ale like Fraoch (by Williams Brothers if you want to seek it out). More oriental notes such as chilli ricecrackers in balance with some aged balsamico and more earth. Mouth: Hugely resinous and alive with all kinds of dark and stewed fruits. Beautifully clean and nervous sherry profile with tar, rancio and a wonderfully syrupy, plum sauce flavour towards the back of the palate. Very earthy and full of all kinds of exotic hardwood notes. Becomes more drying and very spicy with notes of black tea and five spice. Also a little mentholated with time, rather like an over-brewed mint tea. Really rather wonderful. With water: Darjeeling tea, more plum sauce (you could dip a whole crispy duck in this stuff) and more leafy and earthy notes. The fruitiness remains constant and well balanced. Finish: Long! Beautifully resinous and nervous sherry with a delicate flintiness emerging and more gently drying notes of rancio and even a little natural tar. Comments:  Well, I'm not particularly surprised by this one, quite a few of these old OB single casks have been very good. But this one was really great, my kind of sherry: fruity, well balanced and very drinkable. SGP: 523 - 91 points.  

 

Thank you Marcel and Dirk.  

 

 

 

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