Ben Nevis 21, 1998 (Archives)

This week of Ben Nevis has not turned out to be all I hoped it would be. Monday’s 20 yo from Single Cask Nation was disappointing; while Wednesday’s 21 yo from the Daily Dram was a fair bit better, it didn’t have me reaching for superlatives either. Those were both refill sherry casks. Today’s closer is also 21 years old but is from a hogshead. Will it reward my oft-stated faith in bourbon cask Ben Nevis? Let’s see.

Ben Nevis 21, 1998 (48.2%; Archives; hogshead 188; from a bottle split)

Nose: Quite fruity with melon, pineapple, tart-sweet apple. The nuts and powdered ginger and funky notes are so far not here. The powdered ginger emerges with time along with some cream and some dusty oak A few drops of water make the cream expand and bring out more sweet fruit to go with it—some blueberries too now.

Palate: Not as fruity here—or rather the fruit here is not sweet: lime (peel and juice). Some chalk as well and more of the expected mineral Ben Nevis notes. A good drinking strength; the texture is just a bit too thin for my liking. On the second sip there’s some makrut lime in there as well and a touch of fermented pineapple; more oak too now. Continues in this vein, getting a little sweeter with more time. Okay, let’s add water. It emphasizes the fruit here as well and pushes the oak back.

Finish: Medium. The tart fruit yields to oak spice and then to wet leaves at the end. More sweetness here too with time but it’s in the simple syrup family. As on the palate with water and there’s some roasted malt too now at the end.

Comments: This didn’t turn out to be quite as good as I’d anticipated it would be from the first sniff but I like it more than both sherry cask releases, especially the Single Cask Nation. Even though there’s more fruit here it’s also missing a lot of the idiosyncratic Ben Nevis character which, when present, takes the fruit to a fairly unique place. I liked it better with water.

Rating: 87 points.




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