Another interesting casking – four years in an oloroso seasoned butt and then moved into the 2nd oloroso butt which was used to mature SMWS 3.307 – Journey into Joy (a 20 year old Bowmore). There’s a 3rd fill finish for the final four years of this whisky. Curiouser and curiouser.
Nose: Salted caramel, sticky toffee pudding and raisins join flat coke and spent coffee beans, whilst traces of peanut and mineral oil join chocolate sponge and dusty tobacco leaf. Reduced, there’s mossiness alongside wisps of ethereal smoke and the creaminess of a latte coffee.
Taste: Engine oil and axle grease lean this whisky a firm weight in the mouth. It opens with a sharp, fruity, almost balsamic combination that covers dried apricots, orange gel, raisins and chocolate cake alongside a pang of aceticness. Edges of minerality follow with beach pebbles and salt toffee set alongside leather armchair, almond brittle and tendrils of thin smoke. The addition of water really emphasises the oily texture, whilst adding a sense of vaporousness to the smoke – still background and supportive, but now mechanised and joined by plum jam and espresso.
Finish: Quite long and favouring bitter orange together with some final flecks of salinity.
One might wonder why this Ben Nevis was deemed to need a smoke-tinged oloroso finish at such a young age – but in the cold light of day that’s beside the point as the result is nevertheless quite brilliant. Few distillates would be able to handle the intensity of the finish that has been applied here and come out in a state of equilibrium – but this Nevis most certainly has – and it has done so deliciously. Rare for me to select this colour/style as my pick of the month, but this one is an easy shoe-in for my top spot.