Let’s close out the week’s whisky reviews with yet another K&L exclusive. On Monday I reviewed a Tamdhu 19. I liked it, thought it was very drinkable indeed, but was not blown away by it. Today I have a Ben Nevis that is a year younger. As regular readers of the blog know, I am generally a big fan of contemporary Ben Nevis. The distillery’s malt usually provides a very unique mix of fruit, malt and a characteristic funk that is very hard to describe. Will this one be in that vein? I certainly hope so. Let’s see.
Ben Nevis 18, 2001 (52.8%; Old Particular for K&L; refill hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Takes a few seconds to open up and then there’s some lemon with a prickly, peppery mineral note alongside. Below that is some malt, some sweet notes of vanilla and cream and just a bit of that Ben Nevis gasoline funk. As it sits richer, muskier fruit begins to gather in the background but doesn’t quite pop out—maybe with more time? Well, not so much with time but with water there’s sweeter fruit (peach?) and it melds nicely with the malt and the cream.
Palate: All of the stuff from the nose but the fruit is more restrained here. The malt moves in the direction of digestive biscuit and there’s some peat (not phenolic) as well as some old timey medicine bottle rubber gasket. Nice oily texture. With more time in the glass the fruit begins to expand a bit—sweeter here and not as musky—and the rubber recedes. With water there’s more of the lemon (musky rather than acidic) and more of the pepper.
Finish: Medium-long. The malt gets more roasted and the pepper expands. With time the fruit that emerges late on the palate begins to hang out longer and the roasted malt moves in the direction of milky cocoa.
Comments: This is a nice Ben Nevis. It shows enough of the funky character that is the distillery’s calling card. The fruit is not as exuberant as it can often be in bourbon cask Ben Nevis, especially on the palate, but with time and water it does come on nicely. $100 is a very good price for an 18 yo Ben Nevis of this quality (if it’s still available).
Rating: 88 points.