In our quest for the most delicious bottle, there are no certainties. Every whisky you buy, is some kind of guess. A quick taste before you pull out your wallet is great, but sometimes a dram falls short, just because it’s not the right moment and/or your palate isn’t optimal. So even then: we guess along.
But there are some distilleries and bottlers who can take a lot of the uncertainties out of the way. One example is Ben Nevis, I’ve yet to encounter a bad one. Sure, some are better than others, but the overall experience is always good. And this bottle I have right here, is one of the tastiest I’ve owned.
If you’ve follow us for a while, you may know that we both are suckers for ‘dirty whiskies’, drams with an edge and drams where different kind of flavours collide. While the clean and polished whiskies do a great job at letting us live in the moment, the dirty ones give us a challenge. We can talk hours about every funny or odd flavour we encounter, especially when Dion and I are tasting together, and it clearly shows in many of the tasting notes we provide.
Let’s see what we wrote down in this particular case, a 17yo Ben Nevis, matured on a bourbon Hogshead and bottled at 54% ABV by Claxton’s.
An autumnal and earthy whiff of chestnuts, dried leaves and cinnamon. With a sweet and herbal underlying tone of raisins, ham and rhubarb. It has some of the sweetness of Chinese food and grilled paprika too. There’s a slight whiff of smoke and a freshly fertilized field.
Sweet and mouth coating, lots of garlic and herbal notes. A bit salty and mineral. Despite being bourbon matured, it has some very lovely notes of raisins.
The long finish has everything a good dirty whisky needs: Sweet cooked fruits, raisins, rhubarb, rosehip and spear mint. With a salty / umami kind of layer that vaguely resembles a mixture onions, peanuts and cannabis.
The rhubarb, raisins and salty notes get me ever time. I definitely get it if this might not float everyones boat, but for me this is everything I look for.
Tell me, what’s the flavour profile you look for in your own quest?