I must apologize for lying to you. On Monday I said that all three of this week’s reviews would be of 20 yo Ben Nevises distilled in 1997. This was true of Monday’s Berry Bros. & Rudd cask and also of Wednesday’s Exclusive Malts cask. But it turns out that this one—bottled by The Daily Dram—was actually distilled in 1999. It is a Ben Nevis though and 20 years old, which means I’m only 33% a liar. It’s also different from the other two in that while those were both sherry casks—well, the Berry Bros. cask does not specify but it seems pretty obviously a sherry cask—this one is not. Okay, so this one does not specify the cask type either but by the looks of it this seems very much like an ex-bourbon cask. Will it be more quintessentially Ben Nevis than the other two were? I did like both of those but felt the sherry covered up the Ben Nevis funk a bit too much. In theory, at least, the bourbon cask should let more of that out. Let’s see if that proves to be the case.
Ben Nevis 20, 1999 (50.9%; The Daily Dram; from a bottle split)
Nose: No big oak here, I am happy to say. Instead, there’s the familiar mineral, chalky note with tingling citrus and ginger below it that is very characteristic of bourbon cask Ben Nevis. Sweeter and muskier as it sits (somewhere between sweet lime and dragonfruit) and a bready, slightly yeasty note also develops. With time the citrus gets more musky (makrut lime) and there’s some tart-sweet pineapple as well. Water pulls out some paraffin to go with the musky fruit.
Palate: Sweeter arrival than the nose indicated with a gingery bite developing as I swallow. Nice texture and a good drinking strength—though I suspect it will take water well. More citrus (lime peel) and pepper with each sip and the mineral note expands as well. The pepper comes to the front as it goes and melds nicely with the sweeter notes. Okay, let’s see what water does. It brings out more of the acid and more of the mineral notes.
Finish: Medium-long. Nothing new develops here. The sweetness from the palate becomes a bit cloying at the end. Longer with water and generally develops as on the palate.
Comments; A very pleasant bourbon cask Ben Nevis. Not the most exuberantly fruity or the most idiosyncratic iteration of the spirit but one with no flaws whatsoever. A good whisky to have on hand for the summer.
Rating: 87 points.