The UV activated ink on this Ben Nevis highlights the link between Jerez in Spain and Scotland - which means of course we’re talking about sherry casks. Whilst some would likely disagree, I’ve always felt that unchecked sherry influence has a huge potential to run roughshod over the top of a spirit, reducing its complexity and lessening its nuances. In effect – delivering something which tastes primarily of boozy sherry. This Whisky Show exclusive acknowledges the differences that 1st fill and refill sherry casks have on a maturing spirit, and opts for a more the restrained refill approach.
The bottling comes from cask #1465 which was laid down in 1996 and matured for 22 years before being bottled at 51.5% ABV. There are 519 bottles available – with an RRP of £165.
Nose: Immediate sherry opulence – raisins, fig rolls, dark macerated cherries and berries sit with demerara sugar sponge cake and roasted cashews. An elegant sweetness. Deeper, the character of Ben Nevis is still very much intact with leafiness and mosses joined by a sense of industrialness with pan oils and axle grease. In the background, savouriness – eggy bread dusted with icing sugar – ergo French toast. The addition of water adds bright fruitiness with strawberry laces and fondants served with a side of chocolate petit fours.
Taste: Oily, mouth coating and with a very well-judged attack that delivers cherries, blackcurrants and a hulking slab of rich, well-made chocolate. Raisins and cranberries follow, and are joined by orange marmalade and a fruity and booze laced sponge cake. Spicing brings up the rear - cinnamon – which sits with notes of wet wool, burnt soils and piled autumn leaves. Reduction softens things further, adding vintage orange liqueurs, strawberry and raspberry coulis and leafy, aromatic wood.
Finish: Medium to long in length, offering plenty of chocolate and cinnamon spicing with mentholated oak.
Ben Nevis is a whisky I often seek out due to its versatility across both age and cask type. Here, the configuration is quite excellent offering controlled but lavish sherry influence alongside a spirit which both suits it, and stands up to it. Certainly more subtle than the 1st fills from this distillery that are circulating around – and in my view all the better for it.
Review sample provided by The Whisky Exchange