I couldn’t remember where my sample of the Benriach Heredotus Fumosus came from, but there is no mystery with this sample. The presence of the infernal black tape around the cap means it came from Michael K. (of Diving for Pearls). I guess I should be thankful he’s not dipping sample bottles in wax. Yet.
Everything I could tell you about the provenance of this NAS retro Ben Nevis would be stolen from Michael’s review, so you may as well go and read it first if you’re interested in that kind of thing. I’m not sure if new versions of this are still being made, or what really the status of Ben Nevis’ current official releases is. The new 10 yo—which was great—went away and then came back (is the returned version as good as the previous?). In between there was another batch release 10 yo which I did not care for very much. Hopefully, this will be better. Let’s see.
Ben Nevis, McDonald’s Traditional, Batch 1 (46%; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: That very Ben Nevis combination of malt, rubber gaskets (from old medicine bottles) and peat—though the peat is much stronger here than in regular Ben Nevis, peppery and mildly phenolic. Gets a bit sweeter as it sits (pastry crust and some sweet fruit that I can’t quite pick). Water pushes the smoke and the rubber back and pulls out some citronella and some lemon peel.
Palate: The peat hits first, with smoke billowing over my tongue. The texture is just a bit thin. Some sugary sweetness below the smoke—the funky Ben Nevis notes aren’t in evidence here. On the second sip there’s some malt under the smoke which also begins to turn a bit rubbery. Gets more bitter with every sip (moving from charred to vegetal). With more time still the bitterness begins to recede some and the fruit begins to emerge from under it. Okay, let’s see what water does. Well, it pushes the smoke back to the edges and brings out citrus here too. The vegetal bitterness is gone too now.
Finish: Long. The smoke—more and more charred as it goes—and the simple sweetness hang out together. As on the nose and palate with water. The smoke comes back again late—and it’s a pleasant mild char now.
Comments: The Ben Nevis funk is really only present on the nose, neat. The palate and finish are somewhat one-dimensionally smoky and simple. Water changes things dramatically though, pushing the dial from smoke to fruit. Don’t know how much this cost but I wouldn’t mind having a bottle to drink (with water) for those evenings when a young, smoky whisky is what you want.
Rating: 85 points. (Pulled up by water.)
Thanks to Michael for the sample!