Whisky Review: Hidden Spirits Ben Nevis 2006 Aged 13 Years selected by Whisky and Alement

Style: Dark fruits and Smoky

Nose:
Sweet, alluring Maraschino cherry simmering in dense milk chocolate, absolutely delicious. Followed by a dense layer of creamy caramel, black liquorice roots and assorted herbs going into tiny bursts, leaving trails of peppermint twigs and tobacco leaves. Smoke gently infused into lemon sorbet which is placed on top of burnt maple leaves with small rock oysters served on the side. Finished with tropical fruits and agar agar.

Palate:
Reminds me of the chocolates with cherry liquor inside the core, except this is much more complex and delicious. Dark Tassie cherries beaming magnificently while sharp herbal tone giving a beautiful contrast to it. Black forest cake, shaved milk chocolate, sugar plums and liquorice chunks scattered around it. Then we have another peppermint rush, tobacco leaves and the meatiness built nicely into the dark fruits and tropical fruits core. Finish with caramel and peat smoke.

Finish:
More peat smoke lingering, more cherries, prunes and other dark fruits. A couple of chocolate chip cookies at the back. Sweet and delicious.

Thoughts:
While Ben Nevis is quite popular these days but not many bottles can reach the height of this one. I said this before, and I will say it again, with the right (sherry) cask, Ben Nevis can really show its magic – sweet, incredibly rich, powerful, sonorous and savory. The peat is pretty out there for this one, maybe a heavily peated variant I guess(?), which balances the overall complexion, slots into the structure perfectly and brings out the herbal side of the spirit. I am proud to say this exciting little gem is selected by our friends @whiskyandalement, a truly sensational drop!

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[57.1% | Independent Bottling | Single Cask | 2006 Distilled | 2019 Bottled | Cask Strength | Cask Reference: WA916 | **+]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Adelphi Archive Ben Nevis 1996 11 Years Old

Style: Caramel sweet and Robust

Nose:

Caramel, butterscotch barley ultra-charged by herbal, spirit spice. Peanut butte cupcake, popcorns and steamed yam garnished with liquorice roots with just a touch of white vinegar. Ginger powder and nutmeg sprinkling onto carrot cake to give a slight earthy flavour. A rather powerful aroma.

Palate:

Abundant flow of caramel and butterscotch gives maximum oiliness to the spirit. Popcorns, toffee, maple syrup, highly-condensed barley sugar, peanut butter and honeycomb all stacking up to form a robust, rich sweetness underlined by subtle smoke. Limoncello, creme brûlée drizzled generously with creme de menthe, finishing high with assorted stewed fruits.

Finish:

Toffee and honeycomb combine with the malt. Fresh cut grass dressing on a drying barley.

Thoughts:

Probably the strongest Ben Nevis I have tried to date, which is not really surprising given its young age and high abv. The good news is, there is enough substance and texture to match its intensity, creamy, caramel-driven sweetness lingers and coats around nicely. Powerful, but delicious.

☆ [Recommended]

[60.1% | Independent Bottling | Single Cask | Distilled in 1996 | Bottled in 2008 | 129 Bottles | Cask Number: 846 | Cask Strength | *]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Ben Nevis Single Cask 12 Years Old 2014 White Port Matured

Style: Sweet and Complex

Nose:
Sharp at the front then filled up with aroma of white grapes and dunnage earthiness. Quite a punchy nose. Chilli flakes flowing along the sweet, grape-y backbone, soft smoke, subtle assorted dry herbs and hints of meatiness at the back. Complex and fun.

Palate:
Now ruby grapes amalgamate perfectly with the Ben Nevis spirit. Sweet, malty, lightly earthy all gently lifted by the spice. Cornflakes, malt biscuits, more grape juice, chilli flakes knitting up so nicely together… Beautiful oily texture. Fragrant red and dark fruitiness open up so nicely after a while, cigar smoke, black fruits and oak elements pushing forward from the back. Incredible depth.

Finish:
Grapes and bubble gum singing, malt gently humming, all is well…

Thoughts:
Ben Nevis shining at its best form. The nose is bit shy but once we reach palate everything is simply magnificent. Confirms my belief that Ben Nevis can reach the summit of top quality whiskies when the spirit is perfectly in sync with the cask. Showcasing multiple layers of flavours, incredible depth, deliciously sweet and so tantalising. Immensely enjoyable. I heard it is now quite expensive on the market, but in terms of taste, it is one of the dream bottles worth chasing after. Pure magic.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[56.3% • 2015 Bottled • 2002 Distilled • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Non Chill Filtered • Non Coloured • Bottle 317 of 684 • Cask Number: 336]

-Esmond

Tasted at Elysian Whisky Bar

Dram Review: Highlander Inn Single Cask Bottling 2017 Ben Nevis Aged 20 Years

[55.9%・20 Years Old・Distilled in 1997・Bottled in 2017・Highlander Inn Bottling・Cask No. 97・Single Cask Release of 595 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose is filled with thick leather and that signature confectionary meatiness. Absolutely rich but still retains a roundness and balance. The minerals in the background fare cleanly with sultana, ripe figs and shell cordovan leather in time.

Palate & Finish:

Syrupy honey and stupendously creamy, the thickness from the nose ensues.. Cadbury milk chocolate, hint of squid ink up front with the honey laying down the foundation. Hints of leather and cinnamon through out as the cereal note surfaces

Burnt toast and peanut butter in the finish, chewy and lengthy.

Thoughts:

Thoroughly Ben Nevis, typical characters found in official expressions and this would be unmistakable even at a blind tasting. Though in selecting this, Tatsuya San has given us a tightened, more rewarding Ben Nevis experience..

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ben Nevis 1997 Single Cask Bottled for the Sydney Whisky Fair

[48.6%・Distilled in 1997・Bottled in 2017・ Oak Barrel Bottling・Limited Release of 60 Bottles]

Nose:

A splendid synergy of gooey toffee which carries the familiar heaviness of the distillery and the plump orchard fruits which stemmed from the ex-Bourbon cask.  The two seemingly polar notes are brought together beautifully by the buttery and grassy undertones.  A clean infusion of vanilla only arrives later on to join the comforting maltiness and the lovely dose of stone fruits.

Palate & Finish:

A wondrous welcoming with the buttery mouthfeel dressed with papaya, fresh oranges and Brazilian grilled pineapples.  The malt is crisp with just the optimal amount of American oak spices which juxtapose nicely with the weight of the spirit; the complexity charmingly prop up the depth of the delivery.  On the mid-palate it opens up and offers silky molten caramel and soft fruits akin to some of those lovely malts distilled in the 1960-1970s.

A medium of finish of generous lager maltiness with a slight hint of earthiness, fresh and moreish.

Thoughts:

I have known Mr. Fitzsimons since he took the helm of the spirits department at the Oak Barrel and I honestly believe this is the best cask under his watch so far.  What an wonderful achievement.  A lovely and complex drop.

[Recommended]

P.S. Cheers Mr. Fitzsimons for the wee nip, it’s much appreciated.

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: The Auld Alliance x Three Rivers Tokyo x The Whisky Agency Ben Nevis Aged 19 Years

Style: Rich and Deep Sherry

Nose:
A thread of peppermint feeds through on the nose, followed by a dense, meaty toffee aroma, caramel red liquorice and icy tropical fruits. Smooth but a rather rich texture. Distinct peat smoke campfire from distance with a touch of walnut. All the beautiful signatures of a sherry Ben Nevis are here… Love it.

Palate:
Toffee infused strawberry jam striding in gracefully. Rich and fragrant, the delivery is so satisfying. Figs, black coffee jelly, marshmallows and malt syrup, beautiful sweetness cascading in style. Alluring smoke sinks lower, another brush of walnut at the lower branches. Spearmint firing up and echoing at the background. Finishes with dry spices.

Finish:
Dried strawberries and coffee grounds. A small bag of coke gummies, gentle malt and mint to finish.

Thoughts:
Another dram of Sherry Ben Nevis reminds me of Yoichi again. Such a scintillating expression – the red fruits, toffee notes giving a deep purr, then it teams up with the spirit to give an incredibly dense and dazzling texture and delivery. Such an exceptional whisky! Need to hunt this down now… Bellissimo!

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[50.2% • 2016 Bottled • 1996 Distilled • Independent Bottling • Single Cask • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Cask Strength • Limited Edition • 359 Bottles • Sherry wood matured • **+]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Douglas of Drumlanrig Ben Nevis Aged 18 Years

[54.7%・18 Years Old・Douglas of Drumlanrig Bottling・Cask No. 11385・Single Cask Release of 571 Bottles]

Nose:

Quite peppery, a sold presence of oak. Bright fruits, apple crumble and in time it mellows up into a gentle creaminess.

Palate & Finish:

A juicy drop with plenty of might coming from the dried oranges and figs, the overloading of cinnamon dust causes an explosion and once the chaos clears, English toffee surfaces along with crisp malt and toasted coconut chips.

The oak remains sturdy, hints of menthol and raisins with the dark chocolate giving a drying finish.

Thoughts:

Somewhat different from the Ben Nevis Sherry casks I’m used to, this one really is a bomb of a dram!

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Ben Nevis 25 Years Old Single Cask 98/35/5 

Style: Sweet and Composed

Nose:
Wow… Intoxicatingly aroma, rich plums, brown sugar sweetness laced so elegantly by a touch of smoke, mineral and dry spices. If you have a nostalgia for Yoichi Sherry casks, this is going to be your thing. A light dab of acidity opens up to a handful of roasted almonds, black currant pie, subtle floral tone overtime as very dense malt sitting deep at the back.

Palate:
Rose petals raining over a deep, resonating sherry juggernaut. Ruby grapes, dates and goji berries combine as thin smoke twists around them. Caramel sauce drizzles over more red fruits. Chilli flakes peak at the back, then the tone drops with the first sight of fuzzy malt. Walnut bread, doughy painting territory with traces of tannins. Vanilla drying up towards the end.

Finish:
Flour powdering on another black currant tart, red grapes in a tantalizing swagger while cereal malt echoing softly at the back.

Thoughts:
Somehow this reminds me of Yoichi so much. The majestic of the sherry in this dram is as identical as what you can get from my favourite Japanese distillery. The spirit is dense and composed, sweet and complex. Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise at all as they are under the same company. Is it because of the cask? The spirit? Or both? My guess there is something to do with both but probably more from the cask. The malt drops a bit too deep to my liking at the back. But overall, it is a very good whisky. You will love it.

☆ [Recommended]

[56.3% • 2010 Bottled • 1984 Distilled • Original Bottling • Single Cask • Cask Strength • Cask Number: 98/35/5 • Non Chill Filtered • Non Coloured • Double Wood Matured • *-]

-Esmond