Battlehill’s releases are exclusive to Total Wine, I think—at any rate, I’ve not seen them anywhere else. Frankly, I’m not entirely sure who Battlehill are—I have a vague recollection that it may simply be one of Duncan Taylor’s lines. If so, I suppose it may have been a replacement for their earlier value line, Whisky Galore. That one featured whiskies that were not at cask strength and I believe that may be true of all of Battlehill’s releases, not just this one; on the other hand, the Whisky Galore bottles listed distillation years and were single casks, neither of which is true of Battlehill. If this is indeed a Duncan Taylor operation I have very limited positive experience with their Ben Nevis selections: I quite liked a younger Ben Nevis bottled by Whisky Galore a decade ago. On the other hand, if they’re not in fact a Duncan Taylor line you’ve just wasted however many seconds it took you to read this. You’re welcome!
Ben Nevis 16 (46%; Battlehill; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: A mildly rubbery, peppery, farmy note at first. There’s definite peat here, mossy and vegetal rather than phenolic or smoky. Some fruit lurking below all of that (vague hints of melon, maybe lime). After a couple of minutes there’s a sooty aspect to the peat, some coal smoke. With more time the fruit emerges and it’s lime/zest. Still peppery. Water pulls out a lot more fruit (lime, tart apple, some kiwi maybe) and some cream.
Palate: Starts out much fruitier on the palate and sweeter too: more orange than lime here. Then it gets pretty malty and somewhat bready/yeasty. Peppery here too but the peat is far less apparent. On the second sip the citrus has a slightly fermented edge to it and it’s the bready/malty note that’s dominant. Nice oily mouthfeel. With more time the peat begins to emerge and there’s a note of gasoline too. After about 20 minutes it all sort of comes together into a peppery, peaty, malty whole. And a further 15 minutes or so later the fruit is more prominent. With water there’s brighter fruit and more acid and some wet stones thrown in as well.
Finish: Medium. No new development as such. Longer and spicier with water.
Comments: This is not complex but it’s not cookie cutter whisky either. The combination of the malt and pepper and slightly musty fruit on the palate might put some people off: this is the profile that gives Ben Nevis its funky reputation. Me, I liked it but I may be rewarding it somewhat for being quirky. It took water really well.
Rating: 83 points.
Thanks to Patrick for the sample!