Ben Nevis MacDonald’s Traditional

"This nicely peated Ben Nevis brings some enjoyable moments, however, when you have had your share of non-peated Ben Nevis it slightly disappoints"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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In celebration of their 185th birthday in 2013, the people at Ben Nevis Distillery decided for an attempt to recreate the similarly named bottling that was popular in the 1880s. Originally this was only available at the distillery, however, last year it became widely available. This is supposedly matured between 11 and 13 years, while the original was only 7 years old, although we are not completely sure about this. To go back to the past-time style, they have used peated barley of approximately 30 ppm (which could be Islay or Highland peat). 


There is lots of roasted meat, in particular roasted ribs, and pulled meat with sweet sauce. In addition, scents of oils and minerals in the background. It is different and characterful, something I often find in Ben Nevis, although the nose is not overly complex.  Sunflower oil, crab, and after a while slightly more fruits (oranges), and vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and barbecued paprika. All veggies are covered with hoisin sauce and oyster sauce. In between there is also a sweet hint of butterscotch.


On the palate the peat goes much more towards coal dust and cigar ashes, mixed with a tiny bit of lime skin scrapings.  Wait a little while and you find more oranges, orange sweets, and much less smoke. The palate is less meaty compared to the nose, although I certainly find hints of barbecued meat or chicken skin. The palate is also better balanced with more lime skin, some orange skin, lime skin acidity more to the front, bonfires smoke. The finish is reasonable long with bonfire smoke, smoked oranges, and buttered toast.


This peated Ben Nevis brings some enjoyable moments, however, when you have had your share of non-peated Ben Nevis it slightly disappoints. I miss the complexity and some of the typical Ben Nevis notes. But let’s be honest, their goal was to recreate old days, and I have no idea what Ben Nevis tasted back then. They may have gracefully succeeded in their mission.

What others say

Whiskybase: 85.96 (252 votes) * @WhiskyReview: 45/50 * @WhiskySaga: 85/100 * Serge Valentin @Whiskyfun: 83/100 * Angus MacRaild @Whiskyfun: 85/100
Read for yourself

A thank you for sharing the sample to


these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
Nose 85.5%
Taste 86.5%
Balance 84.5%
Depth 84%
Finish 85%