Ben Nevis 10 Year Old
Distillery/Brand: Ben Nevis | Region: Highland | ABV: 40% | Colour: Pale Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 85
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.
Bowmore 10 Year old Tempest Batch 5
Distillery/Brand: Bowmore | Region: Islay | ABV: 55.9% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 92
It’s been a month since my last review. Not that I was short of any whiskies to drink. Far from it. It’s just that I like to take an alcohol sabbatical once every year just to take a break and replenish my self both physically and mentally.
My first two weeks go by in a flash and I barely even think about what I’ve given up. In the third week I start preparing for all the expressions I’m going to be tasting once the month is up. By the fourth I can’t wait to get back to doing what I love the most.
And so it’s really important that I pick a solid expression that I know for sure will not disappoint. There’s nothing like waiting for something for such a long time and discovering it tastes like piss. I hate that.
So I decided to pick the latest Bowmore Tempest Batch 5 as my first whisky of the new season. Because I figured if it’s anything like the last batch it was going to be cracking.
Matured for ten years in Bowmores’ legendary No1 Vault in first-fill bourbon barrels this is allegedly a small batch release. I say allegedly because I don’t know how many bottles make up a small batch. I think anything under 6000 should be small. I think.
Nose: Quite lovely. Very fresh. It’s sweet, almost winey. Like a tart chardonnay. Mixed with a lot of bright lime juice and mild vanilla extract. Dark cocoa tossed in coarse sea salt and crushed cornflakes. Cinnamon sprinkled on juicy nectarines.
Palate: Quite a kick! Strong lemon sweet candies and fiery white pepper prickles. Mandarins become the sweeter citrus. Dark unsweetened cocoa. Adding a few drops of water makes it more herbaceous and adds a touch of garam masala. (I prefer it without the water, though.)
Finish: Long. Very oily. Very chewy. Salty. Peppery with honey cocoa.
This is a great series by Bowmore (who I’m increasingly beginning to like) that is nurtured well and executed with amazing skill.
Springbank 10 Years
Distillery/Brand: Springbank | Region: Campbeltown | ABV: 46% | Color: Light Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 88
Campbeltown, and more importantly Springbank, expressions are always on top of my love list. They have an allure which I can’t explain and I love the fact that simply by being creative they can create different spirits from essentially the same equipment.
The Springbank has the distinction of being distilled two and a half times (not two and not three) unlike all other spirits being produced in Scotland.
This one is a 10 year old bottled at 46% and has seen some sherry casks along the way.
Nose: Initially quite malty with strong salt, brine and coastal sea air. The sherry starts to peek through quickly after that. Dark chocolate oranges infused with cardamom and a hint of delicate peat with some brown bread thrown in for good measure.
Palate: Very true to the nose. The chocolate citrus is there but now with over ripe dates and raisins. There is sweet but the savory side is stronger. Cardamom and cinnamon round off the spicy notes.
Finish: Medium. With salivating oily cinnamon.
This is a very accomplished whisky and serves as a basis for the older geniuses that follow.
Glencadam 10 Years
Distillery/Brand: Glencadam | Region: Highland | ABV: 46% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 90
I have not consumed a lot of Glencadam in my life. At least at the time of writing this post. I picked up a few expressions early on in my journey as a malt-head and simply stored them away in an attempt to build a collection.
It was only recently that I decided to give this 10 year old a chance and, I must admit, I was quite pleasantly surprised.
Nose: Very crisp and full of sharp barley. Sweet brown sugar and macaroons on rice crackers with a touch of allspice. No, seriously. I’m not kidding. After a while the nose turns green with light edamame and salt. It does keep opening up the longer you keep at it. After about 30 minutes there were scented mangoes, apricots and toffee. One of the better noses I’ve encountered of late.
Palate: The same crisp barley and toffee are back. Not the sweetest of deliveries so imagine an almost savory chunk of jaggery, toffee and mild creme brulee. The sweet notes are quite mild. However, subsequent sips bring about a white wine quality to it. Almost like a Chenin Blanc.
Finish: Minty medium with faint spices.
This is quite a lovely malt which ticks all the right boxes. But I feel it’s holding onto dear life to be good. If it lets go it just might be sensational.
Laphroaig Cask Strength 10 Year old – Batch 003
Colour: Young Sauternes
This one is awesome!
No preamble, no build up. Straight up this Batch 3 of the Laphroaig Cask Strength series is a gem!
For those who know me know that I’m a little OCD so when I first bought the Batch 004 I instantly knew I had to collect the entire series. Good thing we were only up to Batch 005 up until that point. Of the lot the one I’m most glad to have acquired is this one.
Nose: That same elegant and poised peat that I’ve come to love from this series. But this time with a nutty almond surprise that blends in beautifully with a drop of cherries and red apple licorice. Give it time and it turns beautifully green. First some olives in brine, then green peas and edemame all against the backdrop of fresh oaky grass. Brilliant.
Palate: What a robust and creamy delivery! A lovely discourse of minty maple syrup and chocolate sprinkled artfully with black peppers and a touch of dusty red berries. I almost feel there is a cheeky sherry cask in here some where. I could be wrong but I would love to be right!
Finish: Lingers long and true with just the right amount of oak.
This is truly a masterclass in balance and elegance.
Royal Lochnagar 10 Years Provenance
Distillery/Brand: Royal Lochnagar
There’s not a lot to say about this whisky other than it’s been bottled by Douglas Laing as part of the Provenance series. It is a Winter 2001 distillation and bottled in the Summer of 2011 from a single re-fill hogshead.
And it’ quite boring.
Nose: Shows initial promise with it’s multi-layered approach. It’s young and sprightly like fresh cut grass. Coconut shavings and warm toffee mix in sweetly with lemon drops and something a touch floral.
Palate: Not as complex as promised. Minty greens, fennel slices and lemon drops roll around in a layer of coarse brown sugar and white pepper. It was all going well until a mysterious bitterness started creeping through and began to distract. This is a brand new bottle so to be fair I’ll give it a couple of months to see if that bitterness still remains.
Finish: Medium oily with a lot of spicy herbs. And that same irritating bitterness.
Move along folks. No fireworks here.
Glen Breton Rare 10 Years
Distillery/Brand: Glen Breton
We’ve all had Canadian Club growing up, I presume, slumming it in a bar some where. It’s not a bad drink with Coke but then what is? Anyway, it’s not Canadian Club I want to talk but it’s cousin Glen Breton and it’s 10 year old single malt.
Had this at a recent tasting of my single malt society and it was unveiled amid much curiosity. However, intrigue did not give way to wonderment as this one failed to excite on all levels.
Nose: Weakly floral, with a hint of woody cashew nuts soaking in a broth of milk balls. There are some fruits – maybe some apples and pears – but I really couldn’t tell so weak is the nose.
Palate: Not bad. It’s not amazing but it’s ok. It’s quite sweet with a lemony tartness to it with some heather. But it’s generally quite flat and one dimensional.
Finish: Moderate with a spicy clove and stale coconut oil residue. Not the most pleasant, I must say.
I guess I’m disappointed because I wanted this to shine but it didn’t. It’s not entirely bad, mind you, but it does not blow you away.
Bowmore 10 Year old Tempest Batch 2
Colour: Pale Straw
I have a funny history with Bowmore. I don’t consider them one of the greats because they tend to cut loose some questionable expressions every now and then. But my friend Nitin is infatuated with them and so I don’t lose faith entirely.
And for that I’m glad because this bottling of Bowmore is possibly one of the best expressions from the distillery I have ever tasted!
Nose: Full of coastal sea air with mild peaty overtones. Water chestnuts dipped in caramel, seasoned with clove and liberally sprinkled with salty grewia (falsa in my language) make for one of the more wonderful noses I have come across of late. Let it open up and there emerges maple syrup on pancake covered in dark berries.
Palate: Intense marmalade cooked in dark honey lathered on top of chocolate fudge and sprinkled with a decadent dash of expensive cinnamon. I can hardly tell this is 56% ABV.
Finish: Long and dreamy with a brown sugar espresso steeped in clove.
Nitin, I think I now know where your fascination stems from.
Colour: Pale Gold
This 10 year entry level from Aberlour is a half-decent malt. It lacks the complexity desired by the experienced palate but may be just the thing for a newbie entering the world of whisky.
The nose is quite nice. There is first a herbacious, clove and honey mixture which tends to linger. But then come the red apples. I have rarely nosed something which is so strong and so obvious. You can try and pinpoint some vanilla and almonds but the red apple keeps distracting you.
The delivery is once again made up of red apples rubbed with cinnamon and light cocoa with a touch of clove.
There is, unfortunately, no finish at all. There might be some figs but that could be my imagination.
A decent, if uncomplicated, malt.