Ben Nevis has always been appreciated by aficionados, and I’ve been keenly aware of this. But it’s also not your everyday single malt. It has a quirky profile. It’s often described as a typical Ben Nevis dirtiness. To me it’s a combination of earthiness, sourness and copper coins. So yes, it took me a while to embrace this distillery from the Scottish West Highlands. Now I am fully on board though.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or are not into whisky at all, which I doubt, because then what are you doing reading my blog?) you’ve probably noticed the onslaught and popularity of Ben Nevis 1996 in recent years. This vintage often seems to have a characteristic tropical fruitiness that’s hard to beat and it has lifted Ben Nevis into new stratospheres. As an annoying side-effect, Ben Nevis 1996 has become more scarce. And way more expensive. Priced higher than I’m willing to pay at least.
And so independent bottlers looking to ride the Ben Nevis high are shifting their focus. Recently not just to slightly younger vintages, but to proper young stuff. And heavily peated no less. Which makes me skeptical. But if you may remember, I was already proven wrong by Roger’s Whisky Company. Now another small Dutch indie bottler follows on Roger’s heels, although it might not be an entirely fair to Torsten Paul Whisky Company to put it that way.
Why? Because Torsten had already picked this cask in late 2020, long before Roger’s Ben Nevis was released. That’s when I had my first sip of a cask sample at least. Then he shared another sample with me two months ago. Now I could finally write proper notes. And I was impressed. But it took until now for Torsten to get his Ben Nevis to the Netherlands. I’ve been looking forward to this moment, because I’ve been wanting to share my notes. Like Roger’s release this has matured in a first-fill sherry cask too.
Ben Nevis 2015 6 Years (61.1%, Torsten Paul Whisky Company, C#42)
Nose: Very much reminiscent of the old Macdonald’s Traditional, but rather much more intense and rich. And peatier. A slight hint of struck matches, but also smoked paprika powder, cured meat and burnt wood, followed by charcoal embers, cane sugar and lots of orange peel with just a touch of charred lemon. Finally some notes of nutmeg and cinnamon, as well a faint floral note. Taste: Big on the smoke and sherry. Lots of charcoal, wood smoke and bitter chocolate, a well some nice chili pepper heat, nougat and marzipan, but also licorice root and dark fruits like prunes and dates. Finish: Sweet, smouldering, smoky and dark. Long.
An unapologetic whisky that’s mature beyond its years. Great spirit plus first-fill sherry and peated barley equals a dream for anyone that loves a peated, sherry matured whisky, regardless of its age. Compared to Rogers bottling this release was influenced a little more intensely by the cask, but there’s still plenty of the Ben Nevis goodness here. I actually prefer it that way. Now available from Whiskybase.