...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Bea's Birthday Booze: Ben Nevis 25 year old 1984, cask 98/35/1

With today's review, Ben Nevis ties Bowmore for the distillery with the second-most posts on this site. (Springbank holds the top spot, though it does fall behind the killer Bs if I subtract Longrows and Hazelburns.) Huzzah for Ben Nevis!

This will be the oldest official bottling, and only the second 1980s, Ben Nevis I've ever tried. The previous '80s BN wasn't particularly great, and that distillery had some weird decades before Asahi/Nikka stepped in to fix up the joint in the 1990s. So I have no idea what this 25yo will taste like.

But I am interested in its double maturation, with 13+ years in bourbon casks and 11+ years in one sherry butt. The distillery did this with at least a half dozen 1984s. Ben Nevis tends to have very good sherry casks, so perhaps the management rescued some hoggies that weren't punching their weight.

Time to see if it worked.

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Age: 25 years old (December 1984 - January 2010)
Maturation: Bourbon: Dec 1984 - October 1998; then Sherry: October 1998 - January 2010
Cask #: 98/35/1
Outturn: 628 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 56.0%
(from a bottle split)


It's a chocolatey baking-spicy sherry cask, in the nose at least. Earth, oats, gunpowder caps, cow manure and saline fill in the rest. It's a party, and it's bumpin'. The palate, though, is slightly soapy and dusty. Oranges, limes, chocolate and cherry lollies arrive later. Some salt and fabric in the background. But that soap note never leaves. It does mutate into an OBE type note in the finish, though tangy citrus, bitter chocolate, and a lot of sweetness almost cover it up.

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

The nose becomes mellower and better integrated. Toffee pudding, pipe tobacco and milk chocolate merge with tangerines and limes. Citrus takes the forefront in the palate, with the soap being pushed into the distance. Talcum powder, herbal bitterness and burlap linger around the edges. A good balance of tart, sweet and gentle smoke stay in the midground. The soap eventually vanishes. That same mix of tart, sweet and smoke stays through the finish.


I'll try to accentuate the positives. Though the cask flexes its muscle fibers, the whisky isn't Oaky. I'm always a sucker for citrus + smoke (see Ardmore, well-aged Longrow, some Caol Ilas, etc.), and the diluted palate delivers that very thing. This cask never reaches the quality of Nevis's Naughty Nineties but it's still pretty darn good, especially once air and water wash the soap away.

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 87 (diluted)