Ben Nevis 21yo 1992/2013 (46%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #2312, 695 bottles)

Next we’ll have a look at an indie Ben Nevis. I love Ben Nevis, it usually is a malt that strikes a chord with me. For me Ben Nevis is still a distillery working today that is able to churn out very good Whiskies, and for sure is one I’ll always keep an eye out for. That said I also am realistic. Not every indie Ben Nevis is good. It isn’t a distillery I would buy indie bottles from without tasting first. Although pretty good, The Golden Cask Ben Nevis I reviewed earlier, did have a strange, funky finish, which makes it, in my opinion, less of a daily drinker. The Ben Nevis we have at hand here was sourced from Signatory. Just have a look at the cask numbers The Ultimate and Signatory are putting out from 1992.

Ben Nevis 21yo 1992/2013 (46%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #2312, 695 bottles)Color: Light gold, with a slight pink hue

Nose: Yeah, now we’re talking. Fatty, buttery, vanilla and fruity. Lots happening and everything seems to fit together quite nicely. Fantastic fruitiness, all sorts of mixed up fruits, red, black and yellow fruits. Almost impossible to discern any of them. Caramel, mocha and strawberry combined with sweat. The wood shows itself here as nutty. Yes this is very special. Do I detect some old school Whisky here?

Taste: Sweet but also a little bit acidic. Very appetizing. Some burnt notes and quite spicy without it being woody. Marzipan and again lots of fruits with some nuts. Highly complex, and I’m imagining this amount of flavor and its complexity might not be for everyone. Hints of smoke, and it has a curiously hidden sweetness to it. Maybe its high in fruits that it only seems to be sweet. Pure enjoyment. Is it without flaws than? Yep this Whisky suffers a bit from a weak finish. Everything that is so well-balanced in this Whisky is absent from the finish. It has some power but after the big body, the finish is a bit weak, and missing some of the big flavors that were so apparent in the body. But hey, this to me is still a pretty good Whisky.

I have to admit, I love Ben Nevis. Most of the times I encounter one, albeit blind or not, I seem to like it. It has characteristics I do like personally. I rated a full bottle of this 86 Points. This review is written about the last drops from the bottle. It is excellent and since I’m going to score this even higher, I’d say this needs some air people.

Points: 88


Ben Nevis 1986/2012 (58.2%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, CM 188, 111 bottles)

Here are a few firsts, and on paper a quite interesting one to boot. This is the first Ben Nevis on these pages. It’s also the first time I’m reviewing a Whisky that was bottled by The House of MacDuff. Now for the interesting part. Some of you might have read “Wort, worms & washbacks” The memoirs of John McDougall written by Gavin D. Smith. By the way, Gavin was “reviewed” once before, so he’s no first. The House of MacDuff is a venture of Jane MacDuff ánd John McDougall. John also picks the casks for bottling under the Golden Cask brand. For those of you who haven’t read this book, well it’s utterly entertaining and very funny. Recommended. John has worked at a lot of very interesting distilleries in all Scottish regions, so I’m assuming that all picks by John just have to be great. I got a few samples from the series, and I’ll start with this Ben Nevis from 1986.

Color: Pinkish gold

Nose: Fresh, sharp and fruity sweet. Black tea (dry leaves). Nice bourbon cask not dissimilar from the Cadenhead offerings (Bourbon Barrels). Warm apple sauce and quite thick. Condensed sweet apple. Not a lot of wood, but there seems to be enough vanillin going around in this. Sawdust. Slightly vegetal too. Hints only of ethanol.

Taste: Sweet, vegetal and slightly woody (multiplex). Quite full and round (sweet) mouthfeel. This is not bad, not very complex but very likeable. Taste is pretty balanced, for me it just goes a bit wrong in the finish. Slightly acidic and the vegetal part (fern) starts to play a larger role. Also, but very late, comes in some bitterness from the wood. Fern with the sweetness, and the slight bitterness, is maybe a strange combination, but hey it’s only part of the finish, so don’t worry.

The Golden Cask don’t disclose all the facts of the cask, but this is probably a Bourbon Barrel. This bottling has yielded 111 bottles, so I’m guessing the cask was shared and this is only half the output from the cask. The second half was probably bottled for the Whiskymesse Rüsselsheim. That bottling yielded 100 bottles. 100 bottles of whisky on the wall, was probably the original order with The Golden Cask buying the rest of barrel #133. Therefore this Ben Nevis should also be 26yo.

Points: 84