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Thursday, October 8, 2020

Ben Nevis 25 year old 1991 Signatory, cask 2915

Down to the final two Ben Nevisseses reviews, one from a bottle split, one from my bottle. This one spent a quarter century in a sherry butt yet still weighs in at 58.4%abv. I loved its sibling cask, 2914, and I'm running out of intro words. This has been an honor and a romance and a burden to my liver. Cheers.

 Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Independent Bottler: Signatory Vintage
Range: Cask Strength
Age: 25 years (16 August 1991 to 13 September 2016)
Maturation: sherry butt
Bottles: 573
Cask: 2915
Alcohol by Volume: 58.4%
(from a bottle split)

The nose on this one is very earthy, occasionally piney, with blasts of coal smoke and youthful peat. After 30 minutes, notes of limes, plum wine and dunnage arise. The palate begins with an intense combination of metals and yellow stone fruits. It's tangy, salty and mineral(ly) with bits of walnuts, black walnuts, pecans and limes. It has the most metallic finish I've ever encountered. It's also very salty, slightly tangy with a hint of tart plums.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
It's a different whisky now. The nose holds oranges, limes and mango ("yeah" per my notes). There's a dense nuttiness to it, along with a whiff of musty old sherry cask. Then some hints of dusty dead leaves and flower blossoms. The palate keeps its mineral and tart fruit notes, releasing the metals and picking up some umami. The finish is also much less metallic. It's tangier and sweeter, with a little bit of umami.

Each of these Signatory sherry butts is its own creature. This one was trending towards Mechagodzilla, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. My take on metallic notes isn't, um, ironclad. I can appreciate that type of characteristic as part of a larger complex whole, but here the metals were way up front. Had they been lighter the rest of the whisky's characteristics could shine and/or balance. Adding water certainly helped. It seemed to mature the whisky. The umami edge was nice and the nose proved excellent. And there was less metal. It's very good whisky, but it's in the shadows of the three previous sherry butts.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - somewhere around €175-€200 back when it was available
Rating - 85 (with water)