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Ben Nevis distillery is located in Fort William and sits at the base of Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain. It is said to have been founded in 1825 by “Long John” McDonald. After many changes in ownership the Ben Nevis Distillery (Fort William) Ltd acquired the distillery in 1955 and installed a Coffey still to also enable the production of grain whisky. When Long John Distillers bought the distillery in 1971 they removed the Coffey still and returned to producing malt whisky exclusively. Ben Nevis distillery was closed in 1986, purchased by the Japanese Nikka distillery from Whitbread in 1989 and re-opened again in 1991. This particular expression was first filled into freshly dumped ex-Bourbon barrels in December 1984, and continued to mature in these casks until in October 1998 the whisky was vatted and transferred into freshly dumped ex-sherry butts. In December 2010 this particular cask # 98/35/5 was bottled as a 25-year old.
The nose is distinctly sherried and very fruity: lots of raisins and plums, also red wine, chocolate and a hint of smoke. As was to be expected there is rubber, but in a good way. With water the nose becomes lighter and even fruitier.
The palate is full-bodied, spicy and quite oaky. Coffee and dark chocolate are followed by caramel and plums. With water this becomes more rounded and gentle. Superb!
The finish is long and quite dry at the end. Coffee and dark chocolate appear once more, this time alongside oaky elements and licorice.
I am happy that I got the chance to try this one. It is a fine whisky, wonderfully sherried, very well balanced and with a particularly impressive palate.