...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Ben Nevis 18 year old 1996 First Cask, cask 1493

When one sees the term "refill sherry butt" on a single cask whisky's label, one doesn't actually know what one is going to get. There are some refill butts that seem to have been totally stripped of life, while others appear to have been dripping with fortified wine. This isn't just a difference between a second-fill and fourth-fill, it also has to do with how long the previous whisky(s) sat in the cask. Or — this is mere conjecture — some re-soaked the cask with sherry.

The OMC Ben Nevis I reviewed yesterday came from a "sherry butt". The term "refill" wasn't used, but it isn't legally required. The resulting whisky was an edgy, spirit-forward blast. Though today's Nevis was aged in a refill sherry butt, it resulted in a whisky rich with sherry and (European?) oak.

This is also an example of a whisky bottle I almost bought blindly, but I instead settled for a 60mL sample.

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Independent Bottler: Whisky Import Nederland
Range: First Cask
Age: 18 years old (October 21, 1996 to March 25, 2015)
Maturation: refill sherry butt
Bottles: 450
Cask: 1493
Alcohol by Volume: 55%
(from a purchased sample)

Yes, the nose. Here comes the list: chocolate, dried apricots, mint gum, anise, yellow plums, pine, hints of mushroom and wood smoke. Reminiscent of some of those oaky cask strength armagnacs suddenly hitting the US shores. The palate is very fruity, like plums and Rainier cherries. Honey, dark chocolate, a little bit of salt and an intense tart candy sizzle. The plummy finish also has cocoa, cherry juice, tart limes and a puff of wood smoke.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv
The nose leads with cherry ice cream and toffee pudding. Then some barley, vanilla, limes and pine. The palate holds a balance of sweet and bitter with a hint of smoke. Fruits and herbs. Peaches and dried currants. A little bit of cayenne pepper heat. Those dried herbs stay for the finish, along with some dry smoke, dried fruit, tart fruit and toffee.

It's a very big, but easily consumable whisky that swims very well. It's much more huggable than the OMC from yesterday, though some may argue that any malt (like, say, Kavalan) can take up this style with a rich sherry cask. To that I'd say, yeah, often true. But this still balances salt/tart/bitter/sweet/smoke better than most. So there was certainly good storage and cask management also going on. Plus, damn, those fresh fruits. I don't find those in just any sherry cask. But the occasional Ben Nevis sherry cask? Yes.

More sherry cask BNs on the way, next week.

Availability - A few Continental European retailers
Pricing - around €115
Rating - 89