With all that is happening in the world of whisky, there are fewer and fewer whiskies that truly have a singular character. There’s more and more homogenization happening with bulk bought barley, generic yeast strains, and even (in Diageo’s case) making stills more generic for easy repairs and maintenance.
While all these things have massive benefits for a distillery as a business, it decreases the options for the same distillery to be a truly unique entity in a world of mass produced whisky.
Some distilleries still break that mold in some ways, and I keep realizing that I veer towards these distilleries more and more. I think, and I might be wrong, that Ben Nevis is one of those distilleries.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that everything that comes from the Fort William distillery is good, but at least it’s interesting. It gives you something to think about and investigate, if you so please.
Let’s see if this one, released by German bottler ‘Whisky-Doris’ in 2018, is one of those singular whiskies I hope it to be.
The whisky has matured in sherry butt 1056, and bottled at cask strength the way it should be bottled: without chill filtration or caramel coloring.
There sherry is laid on this whisky in a very rich manner. Ben Nevis is already a rich whisky, and the syrupy fruitiness that is added by the cask makes it more so. Apricots and peaches, with some cinnamon and clove added to it. Lots of oak, and while the label doesn’t say it, I wouldn’t be surprised if this matured in European oak.
The palate is rather gentle on arrival, although there’s a good dollop of cracked black pepper coming through right after. The fruitiness is still there, with syrupy sweetness, peaches, apricots. The oak makes itself known with a bit more dryness than on the nose. Some more spices are coming through too, dryer cinnamon, pepper.
The finish is rather gentle, and warming. Lots of stewed stone fruits again. Baked peaches, dry oak. Lesser notes of cracked black pepper again.
This is a really solid dram. Even though the Ben Nevis character of its traditional slight funkiness and notes of old book cases and hessian got pushed back a little bit. The spirit carries the cask really well, and I would have been even more thrilled if it was the other way around.
Surprisingly, this is still for sale at Whiskybase, for € 165, which is a fair price for a whisky like this.
Ben Nevis 22, 05/1996-12/2018, Sherry Butt 1056, 50.6%, Whisky-Doris, The Nose Art