"This is different from many other standard bottlings, but beautifully complex and deliciously dirty. I very much recommended whisky to expand your horizon"
(Photo from Whiskybase)
Located on the foot of the biggest mountain of the Brittish Isles, Ben Nevis was founded by ‘Long’ John MacDonald in 1825. The distillery thrived under the reign of the MacDonald family with the Long John’s Dew of Ben Nevis as their flag ship brand. At one point, a second distillery was even required to achieve the necessary production. However, in 1908 the second distillery, called Nevis, has to be closed. Business slowed down, the brand name and the distillery site were seperately sold, and ultimately the distillery felt silent in 1978. The distillery was acquired by Long John International, refurbished and finally sold to the Japanese whisky brand Nikka in 1989. Most of its whisky goes into blends (Nikka, the Dew of Ben Nevis and MacDonalds of Glencoe), except for the 10-year-old single malt and the occasional older single cask bottling. Recently, the McDonalds Traditional was introduced to showcase the smokier side of Ben Nevis. Luckily, independently bottled Ben Nevis releases are widely available, but we start with the regular 10-year-old.
The first sniff brings a fair amount of sulphur, think of burned matches, which is quickly accompanied, or better suppressed, by a very waxy profile. Lots of paraffin together with multiple metallic notes, such as iron and copper. The copper cable of electric wires. The nose is quite electric too. I now get many fresh fruits including kiwi, apples, unripe mangos, melon, and some lemon curd. A tiny amount of water (do not add too much, it is “only” 46%) brings new leather, a strange hint of plastic, and more waxes.
On the palate, I am directly taken to the farm. Hay, stables, and mud. Joined immediately by a fruity side with lemons and apples. The fruits appear beautifully waxy. Obviously there is copper, which I often find in Ben Nevis. The palate is deliciously dirty. Water brings more fruits (more lemon and oranges) mixed with mud, roots, and metallic dust. Maybe a hint of cardboard and magazines at the end.
When I first tasted this, I was very much intrigued. It is complex, slightly unconfomfortable with some unexpected “off”-notes, but most of all different from standard bottlings from most other distilleries. I can see why is loved by many critics and whiskyfans, but I can also see why this is not for everyone. Me, I just love this deliceiously dirty dram.
Big thanks for sharing the sample
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •