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Monday, June 25, 2018

Ben Nevis 16 year old 1997 Maltbarn, cask 22

20% of 2018's whisky reviews have been Ben Nevis. AND THAT'S NOT ENOUGH.

So there shall be two Ben Nevis reviews this week.

First off, is a 1997 Nevis sent to me by Sir Florin-A-Lot. I'm pretty sure I still have more unopened spirits samples from Florin than our POTUS has orange hairs on his orange scalp. (I'm allowed to make fun of Trump's hair because my hair is just as sad.) In any case, today's Ben Nevis is a from an ex-bourbon barrel 👍. And it was bottled by Maltbarn, so if it's not farmy I will be very disappointed.

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Independent Bottler: Maltbarn
Age: 16 years old (1997-2013)
Maturation: ex-bourbon barrel
Cask #: 22
Outturn: 91  ← a shared barrel perhaps?
Alcohol by Volume: 53.2%

The nose needs a few moments before it reveals itself. At first it's mineral and slightly floral. Then come fresh apricots and urine (also fresh). Then chalk, barley, raw cocoa and confectioner's sugar. As far as barn goes, maybe there's some clean hay. The palate is more expressive than the nose. It's sweet and malty, with lots of pepper and lemony citrus. Not much heat. It get sugarier with time, while holding onto the pepperiness. Peach candy and flower kiss candy in the background. Darker rumblings beneath, like something metallic. Lemons and rock candy in the finish. Minerals and pepper.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or <1tsp water per 30mL whisky
Soft, ripe stone fruits in the nose. Then orange peel and roses. Hints of the hay and chalk. The palate is peachy and sugary with the industrial/metallic thing still in play. Milder pepper. Orange candy. It finishes with peaches, orange candy and a peppery zip.

Serge was rough on this one, going as far as referencing Cornelius Jansen for chrissakes. I have a difficult time believing he doesn't sip a more severe & uncompromising whisky than this one, every other day. Sure, it's not the most cuddly thing, but it's not brutal or raw or even austere (crap, I used that word and it's only Monday).

The barrel was certainly taking a nap during those 16 years, but the bursts of fruit show off some decent slow maturation. There's neither peat, nor Nevis funk, which would have lent it some complexity. It takes water pretty well, in fact I might like it better at 46%abv. There are better bourbon cask Ben Nevises out there, but this ain't no slouch. Anyway, with an outturn of 91 bottles this is loooooong gone.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - was €95ish
Rating - 84