I must confess I had a soft spot for this distillery long before I began really appreciating the liquid gold. We went to Fort William a few times as kids on family holidays and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the breath-taking views from the summit of Ben Nevis (the tallest mountain in the British Isles, if you didn’t know) on more than one occasion. I’ve walked past the distillery and remember thinking it looked intriguing but didn’t enter. I’ve camped with mates and ex-girlfriends (not together, mind) in the glen and have to say that it is a part of the world where the mood and beauty has a little place in my heart and soul. Well, that’s all very romantic, and perhaps rather nausea inducing, so let’s get on to what we’ve all come here for, the whisky.
Needs just a drop or two of water to get this one singing for me and take out the worst of the rougher edges - it's fine neat though and perhaps more enjoyable depending on my mood. Bottle’s been open about two weeks and is just past the neck.
Nose – Immediate impression of old, well-integrated sherry, mild salt and a hint of peat. It has a gingery bite, is mildly leathery, heavily malty, oily and yeasty (not a note I get a lot - ale like, even). Seems quite young but with elements of older maturation in there. Some fruity citrus notes too. It fills the room with a heady malt presence similar to how Ardbeg floods it with peat. Punchy and bold - ‘proper whisky’.
Taste – Toffee and sherry (old – 2nd or 3rd fill perhaps? Certainly not 1st fill), heavy lemony malt. Nutty with some herbal touches and a slightly industrial note (as in metallic), some wood char, old oak but not overly bitter, with the oiliness coming through on the palette. Quite dry as it develops. Good stuff and moreish
Finish – Quite long, spicy (ginger and pepper mainly) and that slightly salty, peaty tang.
Big, bold ‘old skool’ sherried whisky that isn’t graceful or refined but it works so well, and seems to offer something that distilleries like Benromach and Springbank do – a kind of uniquely ‘old-time’ feel which I really dig. It feels like the kind of whisky my Granddad would have enjoyed drinking - it's the Wild Turkey 101 of the Scotch world, if you will. The finish is especially big and reminds of that Talisker peppery thing. I like this a lot and it makes me want to save a bit of cash to get an older bottling for my 40th next year. In Ben Nevis I think I’ve found a distillery that really scratches my whisky itch!