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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Ben Nevis 17 year old 1996 The Maltman, Fino sherry cask

I was going to review only two Ben Nevises this week, but I was bummed out by yesterday's whisky. It was as if a reliable buddy had let me down. I'm so spiritually shattered.

I'm going to try another indie Fino sherry cask Ben Nevis of a similar age from a similar time period. Will this help me rebound from my despair, or will it endanger further emotional deterioration?

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Independent Bottler: Meadowside Blending
Range: The Maltman
Age: 17 years old
Distilled: 1996
Maturation: Fino sherry butt
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chill-filtered? No
Caramel colored? No
(Thanks to Saint Brett for the sample!)

The color is light gold, darker than the Càrn Mòr, but definitely refill. On the nose, ah there it is, some dunnage mold. Buttery and nutty. Almond liqueur. Lots of toasted almonds, actually. Grenadine and a floral-citrus thing. A definite pinot noir note too. The palate's delivery registers aggressively peppery and acidic, sharp and austere (that fulfills my once-a-week quota). Once that fades, and it does take a while, there's some candy sweetness, fabric, earth, salt and grain. The finish is sweeter than the palate. Has some salt, slight sulphur and smoke. Marzipan.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose has lots of nutty sherry and a little bit of malt. A good orange peel note and a hint of aromatic wood smoke. The palate has gotten more mossy, but remains very peppery and closed. Moments of sweet stewed fruits in the background. Dried berries and toasted oak in the finish but still lots of straightforward pepper.

Gonna try a little more water.

WITH WATER (~33%abv)
The dunnage note returns in the nose. Some sugary barbecue sauce and a sulphur-like smoke. The palate is dry, with hints of moss, berries and granulated sugar. The finish is identical to the palate.

Well, it's a full step up from the Càrn Mòr. The nose is quite dandy at times as it bumps around the nuts and fruits and mold. But once the palate fully opens up it almost feels like a high-malt blend (with Ben Nevis, of course).  It lurks around category 3 with some of category 1's fruits, and the cask wasn't totally devoid of life. But I don't really recommend it, especially considering its nonsensical price. At half its cost, it would become a "maybe". The Montgomerie's bottling beats the two Fino casks by a solid measure.

Availability - about a dozen or so US specialty retailers
Pricing - $135-$155 (yeesh)
Rating - 84

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