Ben Nevis is an excellent distillery that has, sadly, just lately change into a laughing inventory of types, what with its being bottled as Nikka Japanese whisky. I’ll admit that, with my assessment of an Outdated Specific Ben Nevis 18 12 months previous, I’m a kind of detractors.
Partwork of my leaping on that pattern was the sensation of betrayal. The fame of the Japanese for being trustworthy and never slicing corners is so well-known that we will overlook they’re additionally individuals like us. Being reminded of this momentarily reduce deep.
The opposite purpose is a few form of bitter emotions. Nikka’s use of Ben Nevis to complement their “Japanese whisky” gross sales meant it made it arduous to accumulate the unique bottlings (OBs). This meant that independently bottled (IB) ones, oddly, turned the simpler technique to style them. Whereas it’s widespread for geeks to desire the IBs over the OBs, I nonetheless wish to strive the OBs to higher gauge the distillery’s profile. To knock one thing, it’s best to no less than strive it as soon as.
Fortunately, I used to be lastly in a position to purchase an OB from Ben Nevis. It’s the Ben Nevis Macdonald’s Conventional. That is mentioned to be a recreation of the distillery’s (peated) type from 130 years in the past. (There’s additionally a earlier model of this with a totally different label). When you’re aware of the distillery’s extra accessible expressions, they are typically unpeated and aged in ex-sherry casks. Judging by the colour and flavors, the Macdonald’s Conventional are aged in ex-bourbon casks.
I initially discovered Ben Nevis to be an attention-grabbing single malt, because it was typically talked about together with different single malts that aged nicely in ex-sherry casks equivalent to Clynelish and Mortlach. Regardless of my dislike for something with ex-wine cask influences, my curiosity in these distilleries didn’t wane. It’s primarily on account of realizing that their distillery DNA tends to be extra spirit ahead when in comparison with the one malts discovered from different distilleries.
Having a fermentation of no less than 48 hours (that may last more throughout the weekend) is attention-grabbing. To me, because of this they’re nonetheless not working in the identical most capability as the opposite mainstream distilleries are. Fermentation lasting over the weekend would imply that they get some batches that ferment for no less than 72 to 96 hours, which ought to lead to extra congeners. therefore extra taste. I’m guessing this permits them to mix these longer fermented batches with the common 48 hour fermented distillate to be extra versatile with taste.
What’s additionally attention-grabbing about their fermentation is that they’re mentioned to be the one Scotch single malt distillery left that makes use of brewer’s yeast. This can be a sort of yeast that was used within the previous days. It simply screams “inefficiency” to me, which regularly interprets to extra taste in the case of booze. For reference, Clynelish makes use of pressed yeast. Mortlach makes use of creamed yeast.
I’m additionally a sucker for distilleries that use wood washbacks. Ben Nevis has six stainless-steel and two pine washbacks. My fascination with the wood washbacks stems from their skill to create their very own distinctive surroundings. Learn my earlier article on fermentation if you wish to know extra about how wood washbacks differ from stainless-steel ones. I like to consider these distinctive bacterial environments in wood washbacks as much like mom sauces/soups in some Asian cultures, the place there’s at all times a little bit little bit of one thing from the unique batch.
MacDonald’s Ben Nevis Conventional – Evaluation
46% ABV. £53.76 from The Whisky Barrel, €83 from La Maison Du Whisky.
Coloration: Chrysanthemum tea.
On the nostril: Initially, gentle aromas of peat and smoke. After these are extra pronounced aromas of Fuji apples, apple vinegar, marzipan, puto (Filipino steamed rice desserts), dehydrated lemon peel, and ginger sweet. Beneath are delicate aromas of nougat, toffee, and honey.
Within the mouth: The peat and smoke listed below are extra pronounced and last more than on the nostril. There’s additionally an enveloping pepperiness with a barely oily texture. After which might be gentle tastes of toffee, honey, and caramel. Then, I get barely extra pronounced tastes of marzipan, cream, leather-based, vanilla, pears, Fuji apples and matcha flavored-chocolate.
It’s good to lastly style an OB Ben Nevis that I can bear in mind. What’s nicer is I now personal a bottle… a peated one, at that! With the renewed Japanese whisky guidelines, is it too naive to hope for the possibility that Nikka will begin utilizing much less Ben Nevis shares for his or her blended expressions? I hope that would be the case. I’d like to encounter extra OBs within the wild.
No matter my hopes and desires, I like this one. For me, this can be a balanced and two-faced whisky. Because the nostril is fruit-heavy whereas the mouth is extra cereal-heavy. There’s sufficient peat, smoke, fruitiness, and cereal flavors in it. It’s a disgrace that this appears to be a once-in-a-while launch regardless of not being thought of a limited-edition OB.
Get this when you can. How a lot peated OB Ben Nevis is on the market, in spite of everything?
(6/10 on the LMDW value)