...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Ben Nevis 20 year old 1996 Single Cask Nation, cask 2011

Easy summary of the first seven Ben Nevee: No home runs, maybe a pair of doubles and two singles. Only one flop from the five bourbon casks, but none of the four matched the complexity and loveliness of the 13 year old hoggie that sold me on Ben Nevis eight years ago.

It's time to switch to the 20+ year old sherry cask Ben Nevises (including some 1996s), and I'm really hoping to find some winners among them. I've given Single Cask Nation a bit of grief during this series so I'm hoping this refill puncheon gets a little punchy in my glass. Yeah, I'm proud of that one.

Don't look too hard for the man in the reflection
because these tastings are pants-optional.

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Independent Bottler: Single Cask Nation
Age: 20 years old (Nov 1996 to Jan 2017)
Maturation: refill Oloroso puncheon
Cask #: 2011
Outturn: 321 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 55.6%
(from a bottle split)

Party nose! Milk chocolate, caramel sauce, milky coffee, Old Spice and orange slice candy. There's also some mild peat and a hint of mango juice. It all gets mustier and fruitier with time. The palate arrives from a different angle. Bitter chocolate, soil, broken stones and dried leaves. Hints of honey and oranges in the background. The whisky gets heavier, smokier and saltier with time in the glass. The finish is very earthy and leafy with a spicy zing.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose leans more towards cigars and toasted oak spices, then almond extract, lemon zest and a pinch of moss. The palate is a blast of dark chocolate, heavy smoke and sweet citrus. It finishes smoky and earthy with a hint of sweetness.

This one beat the five preceding bourbon cask Ben Nevii fair and square. The fruity bits keep it from becoming monolithic, but it's still a dark, hefty thing and LOADED with character. It smells great and tastes great and I wish I had more right now. Should I have just done 16 sherry cask bottlings? Or I am getting too hyped about the second half of this series?

Availability - Sold out (USA)
Pricing - maybe $200ish?
Rating - 89