It's been a while since I had the opportunity to check out a whisky from Ben Nevis. This Highland outpost is a survivor whilst other distilleries in Fort William have closed for good, Ben Nevis continues to fight its corner and produces a robust Highland style malt.
In my experience, Ben Nevis is best during its teenage years with 16 often being the real sweet spot. As a whisky its probably not one the first drams on any voyage of discovery and quite often isn't for everyone. However, I do enjoy the fact its not as polished or refined as many other whiskies including others from the Highland region. When the jenga loving WhiskyLifeStyle offered up a sample of Ben Nevis then I was delighted and reassured that my Dutch friends were foraging within the Fort William realm and take a good photograph as you can see.
The whole concept of a series has been somewhat pillaged and brutalised by corporate entities such as Edrington, or even independent distilleries with Arran a prominent example. What started out as a bit of fun now has become a behemoth with stampedes and online meltdowns to snare the latest release. And all for what? Sheer greed the most primal of human emotions, when was the last time you stumbled across an Arran Smuggler review? Hey, now that series is complete how long until the next one is launched?
The whisky for what its worth comes far down the pecking order. Really, anything could be shoved into these picturesque bottles and packages as it'll be rarely explored and once you open one, that's your series incomplete. I can recall the football sticker days somewhat and the desire to complete your starting 11. However I never thought this would transpire into the whisky realm like it has done in recent times.
At least our continental friends when it comes to formulating a series tend to focus on the label rather than the packaging. I'm a sucker for a lovely label and whether its Germany, Italy or beyond, there are some classic whiskies united by a label series. No need for elaborate boxes, marketing spin or inflated prices. It's all about the whisky with this Whisky Agency bottling forming part of their Old Times Diving range. This features an old Deep Sea Diving suit that brings back memories of classic Jules Verne tales.
This Ben Nevis was bottled by the Whisky Agency in 2013 from a hogshead, at a strength of 51.8% that resulted in an outturn of 242 bottles. Time to descend and discover its treasures or become tangled on the reef and die.
Nose: a rich nutty arrival with hazelnuts, almonds and then coconut, before a strong resin-like quality takes a firm grip. A sweet cinnamon, a dollop of vanilla and aged bananas. A very interesting dive so far! Black pepper arrives as does melted butter and a certain greenness with Kiwi fruit and marzipan that could mislead some onlookers as to thinking this was a grain. Water unleashes apricots, peaches and heather.
Taste: through the palate there's a stream current of toffee that carries through to the finish itself. Almond candy, cracked walnuts, Jacob's crackers and a little pineapple in the mix and lemon towards the end. Water brings out more of the cask char and vanilla, with some apples noticeable as well
Overall: plenty of character resides within this Ben Nevis. It's rugged yes, at times not as welcoming as other whiskies, but that's part of its uncompromising appeal. Another excellent bottling from The Whisky Agency with a nice label to boot.
Labels: 1995, ben nevis, featured, the whisky agency