Alright, after a week of peated Islay whiskies followed by a week of rums, let’s do a week of older whiskies; specifically a week of 25 yo and over whiskies. First up is a Ben Nevis distilled in 1991 and bottled in September 2016 by Signatory from a sherry butt. As regular readers of the blog know, I am a big fan of the idiosyncratic malts made by Ben Nevis. Always fruity, Ben Nevis usually gets even more so with age. The last Ben Nevis I reviewed was a 23 yo from a refill sherry butt and I loved it. I also really liked this 22 yo from 1997—also from a sherry butt—and this 21 yo from 1996 from a refill sherry butt. And for that matter I’ve previously reviewed three other sherry cask Signatory 1991 Ben Nevises—a 26 yo, a 24 yo and a 22 yo—and liked them all very much (though I do note that I liked the 26 yo the least). I guess what I’m saying is that sherry cask maturation rarely seems to get in the way of the pleasures of Ben Nevis’ distillate. Anyway, let’s see what this one is like.
Ben Nevis 25, 1991 (58.4%; Signatory; sherry butt 2915; from a bottle split)
Nose: Leads with lemon frosting and candied ginger; honey in the background. Turns more acidic fast and there’s tart tropical fruit in the background—mango, passionfruit, pineapple—along with some roasted malt. The muskier fruit expands as it sits. More of the ginger powder and roasted malt with time and also the usual nutty, beany Ben Nevis notes. More tropical fruit here too with a lot more time time/air in the glass. Ah yes, a few drops of water and the fruit gets much richer and now there’s a fair bit of toffee and butterscotch running through it.
Palate: Comes in tart and tingling with quite a bite from the alcohol. Nice texture though and it’s approachable enough. A little more of the richer fruit on the second sip and more of the roasted malt along with ginger biscuits/cookies. With more time and air the alcohol begins to let sweeter notes through but it’s still not quite a tropical fruit bomb. Let’s give it a little more air. Yes, the fruit expands quite a bit—Makrut lime, tart-sweet mango—and merges nicely with the roasted malt. Quite rich now. Okay, a few drops of water. Water brings out more of the malt and the mango and also now some sweet papaya. Quite lovely.
Finish: Long. The fruit doesn’t expand here as I’d hoped it would but there’s more of the roasted malt and just a faint bit of something that registers as smoke in the background. A bit more fruit here too with time. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This started out slowly and not terribly promisingly but time and water took it over the top. Reallt quite lovely at the end. If you happen to have a bottle I’d recommend patience and a few drops of water with your pours. And I’d guess this would open up beautifully with headspace in the bottle over time as well.
Rating: 90 points.