I’ve reviewed this Ben Nevis before. That was a review of a purchased sample — I ended by saying I might have to purchase a bottle and I did. I opened the bottle pretty quickly after purchase and took it to one of my local group’s tastings (where it did quite well). I’ve been drinking the bottle down at a pretty steady clip since then and figured I’d re-review it to see how much overlap there is between my notes on the two occasions. You’ll have to believe me when I say that I have not re-read the first review before starting on this one.
Ben Nevis 18, 1995 (55.5%; Wilson & Morgan; sherry butt 657; from my own bottle)
Nose: Sharp and a little varnishy at first; some paraffin too. Then the fruit begins to emerge: bright citrus and a more indistinct muskiness below. Gets quite dusty as it sits and a little bit malty as well. With a lot more time the sharper notes recede and the fruit is to the fore (and sweeter now). And with water the sharp notes are all but gone and there’s a biscuity quality to go with the sweet citrus.
Palate: Starts out indistinctly tart/acidic but only for a few beats before the fruit comes in: a mix of citrus (juice and bitter peel) plus some melon and gooseberry. Something rooty/vegetal about it too and some related bitterness. With time the fruit gets quite a tropical kick as I swallow (papaya, tart mango). Water thins out the mouthfeel a bit and introduces a slight metallic note but it also gets rid of that generic acidic note to start.
Finish: Medium. A little saltier here as it goes but no other new development. Not much change here with water but the finish does lengthen.
Comments: This is still quite nice but looking at my earlier set of notes, the nose does seem to have deteriorated a little. I didn’t get whatever registered as smoke on that occasion and it seems to have been both maltier and more intense on the whole then. Probably not surprising, considering this is now down to the last quarter of the bottle.
Rating: 86 points.