...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ben Nevis 15 year old 1998 single cask 596

Don't mind if I do.

In addition to being scarce, these official 15yo Ben Nevis single casks haven't been bottled since 2015. The distillery has since released older single casks, including a 49 and 51 year old.  O_O

So basically we're all missing out on these now, unless you're prepared to go in over your head at an auction. But there have to be more honey barrels in their warehouses somewhere. Come on, Nikka, you know they're there. The market's dying for a Glendronach 15 replacement.

Anyway, yesterday's 15yo single cask (587) was a knockout. And I tried it alongside today's 15yo single cask. Per their distillation and bottling dates, they may be twinsies.

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Ownership: Nikka Whisky Distilling Company (part of Asahi Group Holdings)
Region: Highlands (Western)
Age: 15 years old (June 23, 1998 to May 2014)
Maturation: sherry butt
Bottles: 589
Cask: 596
Alcohol by Volume: 56.1%
(from a purchased sample)

It has a nice dark copper color like cask 587, though a little lighter. The nose is milder, too, full of citrus, wood spice and a nuttier sherry influence. Lemons, clementines and a dab of prune. Cardamom and fennel seed. There's also a dingy exhaust note in the background. Limes, lemons and oranges in the palate. Cayenne pepper, mint leaves and ginger. LOTS of honey. More malt and almond extract. Like cask 587, a big bitter note rolls in after 20ish minutes. It picks up an agave nectar note, making it sweeter. The lemon citrus note continues into the finish, getting tangier with time. One also finds dried fruit, toffee and a peppery heat.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv
White fruits and peaches in the nose. Almond cookies. Bell peppers and a hint of peat. Honey, blueberry jam, limes and a few dried berries in the palate. Mild tanginess and bitterness. Tangy, sweet, bitter and sherried finish.

Different than #587, #596 has a gentler approach, calmer cask and more fruit. It's very good, but cowers in the shadow of its louder sibling.

It takes to water better. But its finish falls slightly short of the palate and nose. The palate's sweetness creates an imbalance, until the bitterness helps out. I'm picking nits here, because I'd be happy to own a bottle......at half its going rate. Its style will appeal to those with little interest in a sherry monster, and I believe this was the cask that appeared in the US. So there may be hope for someone out there.

Availability - European auctions or maybe somewhere hiding in the US
Pricing - Whoa (again)
Rating - 88