I'll keep the blab to a minimum, there's not many OB options for Ben Nevis around, most is sold off to brokers or sent over to Japan to undergo a special alchemy that will have it become Japanese whisky.
A couple of years ago we we're given a glimpse of the composition of this whisky when the stocks of refill ex-bourbon & sherry cask they normally use for this whisky we're low, they then decided to put out a cask strength version using first-fill bourbon, sherry & wine casks. How often do you hear that?? that a company's policy is refill wood first, totally against the times.
Nose: Inky, newspaper, gravel, dirty pralines. waxy orange peel, that kind of nutty/walnut thing you get with some sherry but turned up. Light oak, light smoke. It's very grimy, like old engine oil and dirty cement basement.
Palate: Sharp, malty, oily, slightly hot and dirty, dried apples, toffee, walnut liqueur, plum eau-de-vie, a touch of juniper and ham.
Finish: Mustard fruits, tannic, dried figs and milk tea.
Notes: This is a totally uncommercial type of malt, you could definitely imagine this is more commonly what Highland malt whisky was like pre-WWII or something of the sort. Another Scottish whisky that is evocative of the place it was made, on par with other 10 yr olds like Springbank, Benromach or Talisker. I'd be cheeky and lump in Lagavulin 8 in there too.
Such a distinctive malt, but oh so hard to find. Great review. I think you nailed that old school nature of the whisky and its unabashed individuality. Even the labelling is old school.
This sounds fantastic. The “dirty old cement basement” sounds strangely appealing to me. It’s a shame so much of this distillery’s production is exported and becomes Ben Nikka.