Ben Nevis 10 Year Old

BenNevis 10
Distillery/Brand: Ben Nevis | Region: Highland | ABV: 40% | Colour: Pale Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 85

Review
To be perfectly honest I don’t really know any thing about Ben Nevis. I didn’t even know it was the highest mountain in all of the British Isles. I didn’t know the distillery was named after it. I didn’t even know it sat at it’s foothills.

I only bought this 10 year old because I thought the label looked cool. In my defense that was over four years ago and that’s more time than it takes Amrut to lose half it’s spirit so that should give you some perspective.

I visited their website and the first thing to greet you is a wildly hilarious video about a Scottish giant named Hector McDram (you can’t make this stuff up) who takes you on a journey through the Western Highlands. If you have ten minutes and a sense of humour I highly encourage watching it.

Other than the 10 year old they also have a smattering of blends under the name Dew of Ben Nevis.

Basically this has been sitting under my radar for a long time and I finally got around to giving it a whirl. There’s not a lot of literature about this expression but it seems like it’s been finished off in European Sherry. My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 40%

Nose: Toffee. Lots of bourbon. Milk sweets. Walnuts. Vanilla. Fudge. Chocolate. Dates. Green tobacco leaf. Toasted oak. Orange marmalade. Touch of peat. Coffee. Perfectly decent nose. Quite good, in fact. I like being pleasantly surprised because this could have gone either way. 22/25

Palate: Medium bodied. The delivery is a little weak – 40% ? Chocolate. Bourbon. That touch of oak again. Cinnamon. Black pepper. Dates. Nuts. Touch of bitter chocolate. Mild peat. Again, not bad. Decent. 21/25

Finish: Long. Dry. That oak again. Cinnamon. 21/25

Overall Comments: So what do I think? Yeah, why not? I like it. I think if I go back to it I might like it even more. It has something just a touch unusual to give it an edge.

Rating: 85

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BenRiach 15 Year old PX Sherry Wood Finish

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Distillery/Brand: BenRiach | Region: Speyside | ABV: 46% | Colour: Old Gold
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 89

Review
I always start a BenRiach review by mentioning a horrendous 20 year old I had some years ago which put me off the distillery for a really long time. But this time around I won’t.

Even though it was really bad.

OK, enough about that.

I made up for my BenRiach hiatus by binge buying as many expressions as I could get my hands on. I like that they’re easy to get hold of and within an acceptable price range. More importantly there is a maturation twist with most expressions, which I like. Plus they have these goofy names like Importanticus Fumosus, which is Latin for You will never be able to pronounce or remember this no matter how hard you try.

Good variety of flavors, easy on the wallet and a chance to practise a dead language?. That’s a win win, if you ask me.

I’ve had this one sitting on my shelf for a while for no reason other than I just didn’t get around to giving it a go. But a couple of days ago I felt it was time. And I’m glad.

This 15 year has been matured in traditional bourbon barrels before being finished off in casks from the bodegas of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalucia, Southern Spain, previously used to mature Pedro Ximenez sherry. My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 46%

Nose: Dark chocolate. Barley. Red apples. Green tea. Oak. It’s a little salty. Wild red berries. Sweet rich sherry. Licorice. Maraschino cherries. Christmas cake. If you ask me I prefer PX Sherry over Oloroso maturations. I think it’s sweeter, a little more complex. This is a great nose. Hardly any flaws. 23/25

Palate: Medium body. Oak. Black peppers. Dark dates. Chocolate. Cinnamon. It’s quite dry. Not as sweet as the nose. Quite savory. Under-ripe banana. Coconut. This is quite enjoyable. 22/25

Finish: Quite long. Dry. Touch of oak. Cinnamon. 22/25

Overall Comments: This is a very enjoyable whisky from a solid distillery. If you let it breathe, as you should all whiskies, it gets even more sweeter over time. Good stuff!

Rating: 89

Amrut Narangi

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Distillery/Brand: Amrut | Region: India | ABV: 50% | Colour: Old Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 89

Review
Amrut and I have had a love affair ever since I picked up a glass of the Amrut Fusion and wondered Since when did the Indians start making whisky this good?

That was over five years ago and since then I have managed to put every single Amrut release on my shelf. No mean feat given it’s almost complete scarcity weeks after release. But where there’s a will there’s a way.

I like to think of Ashok, their GM of International Sales, Global Brand Ambassador and over all good guy, as a good friend and so it was at a small dinner at a mutual friends’ house that Ashok decided to surprise us all. For he had with him this particular expression (three months before it’s official launch) which he decided to share it with all of us.

At the time he made me promise not to write anything about it and so I refrained from taking any notes and simply sat down to enjoy the whisky. Luckily for me I had the chance to try it again a few days ago at a friends’ place who also managed to secure me a bottle!

In line with Amruts’ increasingly crazy experimental gene this single malt has seen a truly unique maturation. Matured first for three years in bourbon the spirit is transferred to a specially prepared Oloroso Sherry cask.

For three years that barrel had been sitting with Oloroso Sherry that had been mixed with orange peels. Oranges from Madikeri located in the picturesque Western Ghats of India which imparted a truly unique citrus and sherry combination to the oak.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 50% ABV

Nose: Lightly toasted oak. Orange peel (duh). Dry leaves. Rich sherry. Chocolate. Mint leaf. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Jute bag. Vanilla. This is a super rich nose and the orange is quite prominent, though, thankfully it does not overpower. Amrut noses are seldom flawed and neither is this one. 22/25

Palate: Good weight. Nice body. Coats the mouth with chocolate. Cinnamon. There’s that orange again. But more of an orange cake this time. Oak. Black pepper. Ginger. This is a nice twist. Makes me want to bust out my Compass Box Orangerie and conduct a head to head. This ticks just the right amount of unusual for me. 22/25

Finish: Extremely long. Oily. Lip smacking cinnamon. Best of part of the experience. 23/25

Overall comments: I’ll be honest. I walk into an Amrut knowing that I’m going to like it and, quite frankly, am unashamed to be biased. They’ve done a lot of good in a very short space of time. Ashok is a solid gentleman who loves his craft and lives by it. And when you can pull of bizarre experiments like this then what’s not to like?

Rating: 89

Balcones Distilling Baby Blue Corn Whisky

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Distillery/Brand: Balcones Distilling | Region: America | ABV: 46% | Colour: Pale Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 89

Review
I remember tasting my first Balcones. It was the Brimstone Resurrection. Quite possibly the most fiery and powerful whisky one can have. Massively smoked and audaciously spicy it was a no-holds barred attack of the senses.

And I loved it!

Chip Tate, the man behind the distillery, was a true innovator using techniques and ingredients only he could think of. Sadly his association with his own distillery was short-lived thanks to a rather public spat with the other board members. He left soon after and is now working on producing spirit for his own Tate Distillery.

Before he left, though, he conjured up this rather unique little expression. Using tiny 235 gallon copper stills, all hand-made at the distillery, this spirit is twice distilled and then aged in five gallon oak barrels making this quite the craft distillers’ whisky.

But the key to the flavor is the rather unique Baby Blue Corn used to extract the spirit. After trying multiple varieties of corn Chip settled on the roasted Hopi blue corn and has, in my opinion, managed to put together quite a unique little whisky.

My pour is from a 30ml sample from the chaps over at Master of Malt and served at 46% ABV

Nose: Quite malty at first. Hops. Fruity too. Papaya. Chocolate. Jack fruit. Pepper. Buttered corn. Gets sweeter after a bit. Vanilla. Toffee. Ground coffee. Worn leather. Spices. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Let it sit and the maltiness goes away. More crisp now. Not bad. I like it. 22/25

Palate: Nice weight. Tropical fruit. Oak. Touch of smoke. Spice. Cinnamon. Burnt brown sugar. Bubble gum. Bubble gum? Green tea. Hint of lime. I think this palate needs a little getting used to. Definitely an acquired taste because the few people I’ve asked absolutely hated it. But I have this thing for anything just off the beaten path and this does it for me in some way. 23/25

Finish: Medium. Leather. Cinnamon. Quite savory. 22/25

Overall Comments: If you know me you know that I go out of my way to look for the weird, the unusual, the stuff that questions the status quo. And I think I may have found it in this whisky. Is it spectacular? No, of course not. But there’s just something alluring about it that I can’t put my finger on.

Rating: 89

Glenfiddich 21 Year old Caribbean Rum Finish

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Distillery/Brand: Glenfiddich | Region: Speyside | ABV: 40% | Colour: Bronze
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 85

Review
There’s nothing I can tell you about Glenfiddich that you already don’t know. It is unquestionably the most popular single malt whisky in the world. They are by and large one of the most consistently above average whiskies produced given their staggering levels of output.

What I can tell you that you might not necessarily know is that I met their Global Brand Ambassador Mr Ian Millar a few months ago who is quite a proponent of whiskies with age statements. Barring a couple of new releases from them it seems that this is quite true for the distillery as well.

In fact I recently read they’re scaling up production to meet demand and more Glenfiddich in the world is, in my opinion, a good thing!

I was invited by our local distributor for an evening of tasting the classic Glenfiddich range which was quite nice. It’s quite common to give these expressions a pass just because they’re the most drunk whisky in the world. And you kind of forget why they’re No1. It’s because they are pretty damn good.

We started the evening with the 12 (average), moved on to the 15 (so good!), then the 18 (lovely) and finally the 21 year old finished off in Caribbean Rum Casks. My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 40% ABV

Nose : Bananas. Toasted oak. Almonds. Walnuts. Cinnamon. Ginger spice. Now some vanilla. Chocolate. Coffee beans. Gets fruitier over time. Red apples. Berries. There’s something a touch sour. Don’t know what that is. And some mint leaf. I like it. It has the classic Speyside / Glenfiddich nose with a little sweet and fruity twist. 22/25

Palate : Quite oaky. I don’t like the delivery – it’s a bit thin. Black pepper. Cinnamon. Ginger. Wild berries. Mocha. Coffee beans. Chocolate. Ripe oranges and orange zest. This seems to me like a manufactured taste. Don’t know how to explain it but it just felt that the spirit was too restrained. Not the best part. 21/25

Finish : Medium. Oak. Cinnamon. Quite drying. 21/25

Overall Comments : This is half decent though I feel that the palate was a touch over-oaked and a bit thin. The general consensus among the group was that it felt like it was made to order. And by that I probably mean that all the flavors that are supposed to please me were there but for some reason didn’t work so well together. It’s not a bad whisky. It’s not awesome either.

Rating: 85

PS : I just noticed that I have another review of the 21 year old which I did almost two years ago and it seems like I really liked it then. I can only assume there to be enough batch variance for me to have a much different opinion this time around. Unfortunately I can’t tell you the bottling dates for each. For all I know they are exactly the same spirit and I’m a complete idiot…