Ben Nevis 43 Years Old Single Blend (Speciality Drinks)
This Ben Nevis is probably one of the rarest styles of Scottish whisky around — a single blended whisky. A distillery needs to have both pot stills and a column still to be able to produce this type of whisky: a blended whisky from malt and grain whisky that is the product of one distillery. Currently there’s only one distillery in Scotland capable of producing single blended whisky: The wonderfully weird Loch Lomond Distillery.
But Ben Nevis used to operate a column still from 1955 until the early 1980s. The distillery blended both of its distillates at birth and filled it into casks. Most of them ended up in your average blended whisky, but a few casks made it out of purgatory, like this 43 year old Ben Nevis bottled around five years ago by Speciality Drinks (now Elixir Distillers).
Ben Nevis 43 Years Old Single Blend (44.5%, Speciality Drinks, 300 bts.)
Nose: The grain influence is certainly recognizable. There’s similarities to the older grains, such as this Invergordon, but it has more to offer. Hints of bitter orange peel and oak, but then there’s creamy butter and a whiff of vanilla custard, followed by cedar wood and tobacco leaves. Well-rounded stuff.
Taste: Lemon zest, vanilla and orange juice, but also spicy oak, resin and coconut shavings. A touch floral and slightly bitter.
Finish: Lingering spices and bitterness.
On the palate I can’t really find the balance that was so prevalent on the nose. That shaves more than a few points of the initial score I thought this was going towards. Still proper whisky, mind you, just not what you might hope.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.