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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Ben Nevis 19 year old 1997 Montgomerie's, cask 186

Another 1997 Ben Nevis today. This time it's from Angus Dundee's Montgomerie's range. I was saving this sample for another month-long Ben Nevis run, but I gave in to peer pressure. Or rather, I will never again have enough Ben Nevis samples for a full month's worth of reviews.

This sample was part of a bottle split I did with Mr. MAO, who reviewed his portion promptly. To get some additional perspective on this whisky, I did a side-by-side tasting with Monday's 1997 Ben Nevis.

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Independent Bottler: Montgomerie's (via Angus Dundee)
Age: 19 years old (1997-2016)
Maturation: probably an ex-bourbon cask
Cask: 186
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chill-filtered? No
Caramel colored? No
(from a bottle split)

The simple nose starts with lemon zest, barley and a hint of roses. With time, notes of salty ocean air and underripe peaches arise. The palate starts with peppercorns, minerals and oregano. Some fruity sweetness meets a tart buzz. It's a little grassy. Minimalist, again. More stone fruit than citrus in the finish. A dry mineral white wine. More grass.

DILUTED to ~40%abv, or <1tsp of water to 30mL whisky
The nose brightens up. Some good apples, musky melon and honey. Toasted grains. Something dusty. More herbs and zippier pepper in the palate. A tiny bit of tropical fruit sweetness, maybe coconuts and papaya? Hints of flowers and vanilla. It has the same fruit in the finish with a mild bitter pulse. Moderately sweet. Is it subtle or just vacant?

Another lean Ben Nevis. The oak shows a tiny bit more than Maltbarn's '97, but it's also three years older. There's nothing wrong with it, quality-wise, but it's tough to really cheer it on. It does perk up with water, as the fruits seem to awaken. But then the finish nearly vanishes, which may have to do with the reduced strength. Though I think I like it slightly better than the Maltbarn, it's not enough to give them different ratings. They're both moderate (and lean) Ben Nevii that really could be from a number of other Highland/Speyside distilleries.

Availability - Total Wine y Mas
Pricing - $99.99
Rating - 84 (preferable with water)