I found out, much too late, how much I enjoy Ben Nevis. Or maybe I should put it another way:
Prior to 1996, Ben Nevis was a roll of the die. When the die rolled well, much like the now infamous Community episode, it was very flavourful and a good value.
Then someone at the distillery figured out how to do that often, and now Ben Nevis sells for many buckaroos. Most people don’t even look for the differentiation point anymore: A 1990 is going to sell at the premium, regardless of the fact that it doesn’t follow the same “rules” of the 1996.
We call this the “shitty president” theory, in which bad leaders who are complete fucknuts expect the same respect and treatment of good leaders. See: Reagan raped a lot of women, we don’t treat him like dirt like we do Bill “There’s extra Pudding Pops in your New Coke” Cosby.
Enter Ben Nevis 25 1991 Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, a Ben Nevis that was aged in sherry casks and comes well before things got some tweaking and Ben Nevis went from 50/50 success rate to much higher (I’m not willing to admit it’s close to 100 percent)
If I had the chance, I would have probably taken a chance on this one, given what I know now. Granted I would have also invested in bitcoin at $300 and maybe avoided marketing as a major.
Nonetheless, we’re here, so may as well enjoy the rare time I get to have a Ben Nevis when I get them. Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: Sold out at the moment, never found out the price, no one wrote it down, thus all of civilization is falling.
Vintage: August 16, 1991
Bottled: September 13, 2016
Cask type: Sherry Butt
Cask number: 2915
Number of bottles: 573
Colour: 2.5Y 8/6
Nose: Grapefruit, burnt sugar, brine, jellybeans, leather, orange sorbet
You know when you walk into a gym known for bodybuilding? Not a regular gym where the body types are different, but one where wearing a shirt makes you the odd one out? Yeah, that’s the strength of the flavours on this nose. As appealing too, if I may add.
Leather, strong sugar notes, salt, and a good acidity to balance it all out. The kind of whisky you can spend hours nosing.
Taste: Candied grapefruit, saltwater taffy, leather, mango candy (soft), caramel sauce
Bit lighter acidity, however for the first time in what seems like years I had a taste that can cash the cheques the taste wrote. More salt, less acidity, still leather, and some sweet/candy notes. Again, something you can spend hours with exploring.
Finish: Grapefruit, basil, mineral, white tea, leather/black pepper
The sugar trapdoor falls out at the end, and I’m not angry about it. Sure, from a consistency standpoint it would have been nice to have some sweetness to it, and it’s less balanced and more bitter/tart at the end, but the taste had some sharp sweet notes, so I think people will prefer this.
Nice heat to it too. Oh and the amazing leather flavour preserved, so I ain’t too angry.
Conclusion: Lovely, powerful, tasty, and that leather note is so, so good. This easily falls into the “made it” of the old style, and differs a tad from the current. It’s a kitchen sink of interesting and complex flavours.
If I can use the UK’s term of “moreish”, this is that: I want more of it. Which is silly, of course I want more, it’s a good quality dram that’s balanced and unique. Also they seemingly used a good sherry cask, which are few and far between.
Buy this if you get the chance.
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