Ben Nevis – 16yo 1998 Lady of the Glen
(Distilled 3/12/98, sherry hogshead #1407, 273 bottles, 52.1%)
I tend to think of Ben Nevis as a naughty distillery: sometimes it’s clean and fruity, sometimes dirty and funky, sometimes a bit peaty and maritime. Sometimes it’s floral and almost soapy, sometimes oddly metallic. Who knows what you’ll get when you crack open a bottle? Perhaps we could ask Hector McDram?
Nose: Intensely sweet and fudgy, with loads of butter. Toffee with sherry sulphur. There’s a sweet leatheriness from the sherry cask, and also some savoury notes: ham (which isn’t atypical for sherried whiskies) and cheese (which is). Maybe a grilled ham and cheese sandwich on buttered brioche? I told you it’s naughty. There’s some orange after a while – with some salty preserved or pickled lemons? – and a creamy strawberry thing happening. Strawberry Mini-Milk.
Taste: It’s huge, hot and sulphurous. Blood oranges and bitter chocolate. Prunes soaked in something filthy. Fudge and burnt honey. Cassia and cloves.
Finish: It gets fruitier. Charred lemons, over-ripe banana and pineapple. Blackcurrant cordial reduced down to a sticky lump. That cheese is back, with some pink peppercorns. A long finish fading on a very salty liquorice note, always a plus in my book.
This is – let’s be frank – very badly behaved whisky. It’s also enormous fun. If your palate is feeling a bit jaded then here’s something to pep you up – just try and be bored drinking this. Not for whisky newcomers though (if you still think Glenlivet is exciting this’ll take the top of your head off), or for anyone sensitive to a bit of sherry sulphur. Otherwise: enjoyable, bonkers, unique. Slàinte mhath, Hector McDram.