...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Ben Nevis 19 year old 1999 Valinch & Mallet, cask 18-1901

Here's today's whisky:

Here's last Friday's whisky:

Side by side:

Look at today's whisky, on the left, swallowing light. I went in on the bottle split because I thought it was a sherry cask. It's not. It's a bourbon hogshead.

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Independent Bottler: Valinch & Mallet
Range: Hidden Casks Collection
Age: 19 years (1999-2018)
Maturation: bourbon hogshead
Cask number18-1901
Outturn: 278 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 52.8%
(from a bottle split)

It noses of lumber, bark, caramel, pine needles, cocoa, black peppercorns, caramel, brine, mint and caramel. The punishingly sweet palate rings of sweet vermouth and tawny port. Orange oil, eucalyptus and acres of bitter oak. It finishes with cloying sugar syrup and bitter oak.

Um, water?

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose is of a dustier bourbon now. Lots of caramel, butterscotch, barrel char and vanilla custard. There's more vanilla and barrel char on the palate, with some bubblegum, sweet vermouth and intensely drying tannins. It finishes with a sugary swirl of vanilla and cherry juice.

As a Ben Nevis this is turrible. Had someone done this to a Springbank or Clynelish or Lagavulin there would be pitchforks and tears and gnashing of teeth throughout whiskydom. The whisky makes one wonder if "Hidden Casks" refers to the act of finding the thing in the back of the warehouse way way way too late.

BUT. As a bourbon it is of interest. It's essentially a combination of two genres of American whiskey. Part One: those wine cask finished thingies from Angel's Envy and Joseph Magnus. Part Two: Crafty-Craft Craft Craft Whiskey. And, you know what, it makes a decent old fashioned cocktail. I mean that was the whole purpose of this release, right?

Availability - A few bottles may still be available here and there in the USA and Europe
Pricing - $150-$200
Rating - 73 (but only if you pretend you're drinking bourbon)