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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Bea's Birthday Booze: Ben Nevis 25 year old 1984, cask 98/35/13

My previous Ben Nevis review posted to this site 361 days ago. In honor of my daughter Beatrice's fifth birthday, I reviewed a 25 year old official Ben Nevis single cask (98/35/1) that was distilled in 1984.

Today, in honor of Beatrice's sixth birthday, I am reviewing a 25 year old official Ben Nevis single cask (98/35/13) that was distilled in 1984.

There were at least six single casks from this parcel, each receiving the same re-racking treatment. Distilled in December 1984, the spirit was deposited into bourbon casks, in which it baked until October 1998 when the whisky was then poured ("vatted" per the labels) into sherry casks, where it continued to mature until bottling time.

With 13+ years in bourbon casks and 11+ years in sherry casks, 98/35/1 and 98/35/13 had true double maturations. 98/35/1 was cask-heavy, but never tannic. I hope for something similar or better from 98/35/13. The whiskybase community certainly adores this cask.

Damn good photo if I do say so my damn self

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Age: 25 years old (December 1984 - May 2010)
Maturation: Bourbon: Dec 1984 - October 1998; then Sherry: October 1998 - May 2010
Cask #: 98/35/13
Outturn: 638 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 55.4%
(from a bottle split)


Yeah, the nose is probably 90% cask, but it's very nice. Dried cherries in very dark chocolate. Dried mango and a few figs. Maple and grape jam. In the background: a dunnage by the ocean. The palate is warm and toasty, with plenty of oak spice up front. Raspberries, oranges, walnuts, dark grapes, and honey fill the midground......then a burst of xocolatl, Mexican chocolate, takes over, full of cinnamon and chiles. That big note remains through the long finish, with limes and grapes in the background.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose begins with raisins, toffee, milkier chocolate, and a hint of dunnage. As the water integrates, out come nectarines, orange blossoms, and some Jamaican rum-style dunder. The cask gets heavier in the palate. All oak spices and Mexican chocolate until it suddenly changes. And there it is: strange organic peat mouldering in a damp basement. Yes! It finishes tangy, full of chiles, lightly smoky, and with a few nectarines tossed in.


Twice the palate shifts colors, dramatically. With the Ben Nevis diluted to 46%abv, its wonderful eccentricity materializes out of nowhere, like a koan instantly manifesting a truth long hidden. When the whisky is at its full strength, the raucous Mexican chocolate spontaneously blasts through everything around it. Like the Kool-Aid Man. Oh yeah.

This is the better cask. I have nothing else to add.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - !!!!
Rating - 90