...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Ben Nevis 23 year old 1996 Single Cask Nation, cask 1839

After the Valinch & Mallet experience I decided to move some of the Ben Nevises around so that I could finish up all the bourbon cask BNs right here. All nine Nevises after this will be from sherry casks, which is what all four of you who've been following this series have been waiting for anyway.

This 23 year old hoggie from the Single Cask Nation gents was distilled in 1996, an allegedly fabulous vintage for this distillery. ...... And now I've just deleted my two-paragraph hot take on whisky "vintages". I'm unsold on the magical vintage theory (because science), but I've also written about it a half dozen times already. Instead, I will write about something totally unique to Diving for Pearls: Ben Nevis.

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Independent Bottler: Single Cask Nation
Age: 23 years old (Nov 1996 to Nov 2019)
Maturation: second-fill bourbon hogshead
Cask #: 1839
Outturn: 209 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 50.4%
(from a bottle split)

The nose is mossy with a few drops of tropical fruit punch, followed by small notes of buttery American chardonnay and old newspapers. It gets butterier, and picks up notes of dried thyme and orange with time. A subsequent pour shows more flowers and dried apricots. The palate has a salty mineral core with flowers and nectarines around the outside. A strong tanginess and pepper oil joins the salt. Tiny notes of oranges and malt in the background. The subsequent pour is maltier with a good bitterness. Its warm finish is simply salt and citrus.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or ½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose becomes much fruitier, candied like a Jolly Rancher bag, with notes of moss, roses and tomato leaf in the background. Nectarines, oranges, minerals and barley make up the palate, with a balance of sweetness and pepper at its center. It finishes sweeter now, though it's still tangy and salty. Maybe a bit of lychee in there?

Though the cask lost at least 41% of its original contents over 23 years, it thankfully didn't seek revenge on the whisky and its drinkers. By that I mean, the whisky isn't oaky. It does feel lean and simple when neat, but then loosens up with just a little bit of water. I wasn't crazy about this Ben Nevis during its first pour as it offered nothing one can't get from many younger, cheaper whiskies from other distilleries. But the second pour was better, bolder and brighter. Though for this price??? Next.

Availability - Several retailers in the US of A
Pricing - $220-$260
Rating - 85