...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ben Nevis 16 year old 1998 Càrn Mòr, Fino sherry cask

To say I've been underwhelmed by the other three Càrn Mòr's single malts I've tried would be an understatement. While I greatly enjoy refill cask whisky, some casks are too "refill". Dead wood often results in flat, spirity, sour poorly developed whisky. And all three previous Càrn Mòr's I've tried were from some dead-ass casks.

So I swore off even trying any future Càrn Mòr single malts, until I saw that they released a Ben Nevis......in a fino sherry cask! Can't go wrong with Ben Nevis in a sherry cask right? And in a Fino, no less. That's why I picked up this bottle for my OC Scotch Club going-away event, last July. When would be the next time any of us would see a teenage Nevis in Fino?
Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Independent Bottler: Càrn Mòr
Range: Strictly Limited
Age: 16 years old – 1998 to 2015
Maturation: Fino sherry cask
Bottles: 733
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chill-filtered? No
Caramel colored? No
Sample from an bottle I chose for an OC Scotch Club event.

As you may be able to glean from the photo above, the color is a very light amber. The nose starts floral (blossoms, not smoke) then adds in a tiny bit of prunes and black raisins. Dark chocolate, citronella and tangerines. Though this all sounds nice, it's barely there, all very faint. About 20 minutes in, its fades into an indistinct malt. The palate has quiet notes of prunes and dried cherries. Has a light orange candy sweetness. Some smoky chocolate. A strong pepperiness that might be sulphur-related. Gets maltier with time. The finish has black raisins, milk chocolate and a low malty rumble. Warm and tingly. Slightly acidic.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose gets younger. Barley and yeast. Chalky. Hints of black raisins and sulphur. The palate perks up a little with dried cherries and blackberry fruit leather. Its ethyl sting actually increases. There's almost no finish. A whiff of raisins. Bitterness, heat and acid.

There goes Monday's theory about the three types of Ben Nevii, as this doesn't really fit into any of those categories. It's the least Ben Nevis Ben Nevis I've ever had. Though there are some quiet sherry-like dried fruits, there is very little of Fino's dryness. I'm sure Fino casks must be expensive, so I wonder if Càrn Mòr found a third-fill one for a good deal and/or re-racked a couple flat ex-bourbon hoggies worth of Nevis into it. Too bad none of the spirit's gonzo flair or dynamic richness found its way through.

It's not a bad whisky, in fact it's very drinkable. The nose is better neat. The palate improves a little with water, but then the finish blanks out. Since it's not chillfiltered there's a decent oiliness to the whisky. Also, it's not as if the spirit was overwhelmed by the wine. And now I'm running out of nice things to say.

Availability - a few European specialty retailers
Pricing - $70-$90 (w/o shipping)
Rating - 81


  1. Well, bother. At least it sounds like this might make an acceptable canvas for blending.

    1. Did you buy one of these already? You may find more to it than I.

    2. Yes, I got a bottle when the WBShop had it on sale. Hard to go wrong with sherry cask Ben Nevis. Or so it seemed.