Ah Ben Nevis. Not the most highly regarded distillery, even though their standard Ben Nevis 10 Years is just cracking whisky.
Le Gus’t, the French distributor of whisky, beer and gin down south in Provence, has already bottled a pair of Ben Nevis casks back in 2016 and now they’re doing the same with this Ben Nevis 2007 from first-fill bourbon wood and Ben Nevis 1990 from a Port Pipe.
Ben Nevis 11 yo 2007 (56,2%, Le Gus’t ‘Selection XVI’ 2018, first-fill bourbon cask #17, 228 btl.)
Nose: rather sweet and classic, not as whacky as they sometimes come by. Sweet malty notes, some vanilla, peaches and pear eau-de-vie. Grapefruit and kiwi. A chalky note underneath, as well as a slight oak prickle. Water brings out the fragrant side of the oak.
Mouth: very peppery attack but also nicely fruity, almost tropical even. Lots of grapefruits, limes, passion fruits. Still some mineral hints, adding some Riesling character to it. Almonds. Mentholated notes. Some zesty notes and caraway seeds in the end. Water makes it sweeter and flatter.
Finish: medium, rather more malty and classic citrus notes now. Some drier woody notes too.
A good Ben Nevis from an active cask. Great fruity notes but also peppery oak. I felt the need to add water but it makes it loose quite a lot of complexity. Nice one though. Around € 90 from Le Gus’t.
Ben Nevis 27 yo 1990 (58,9%, Le Gus’t ‘Selection XV’ 2018, Port pipe #5, 736 btl.)
Nose: the Port leaves little room for the spirit. Baked apples, sour red berries and red grapes. Dates. Clean matchstick heads. Butter pastry. Walnut cake. Big hints of tobacco as well. Very winey, but in a natural way, without the synthetic fruits that you sometimes get from Port casks.
Mouth: cherries, Ribena juice, maybe a little pomegranate syrup. Pepper, clove, mint. Some nuts and musty wood. Tobacco. Dark chocolate pralines with raspberry ganache. Hints of salted caramel and flints.
Finish: long, with the typical leathery / tannic dry edge of Port casks. Cloves, chocolate and tobacco.
There’s this musty winey side that somehow abridges my enthusiasm, and it’s not very typical for the distillery either. That said, this was certainly one of the more interesting Port matured whiskies I’ve had. Around € 150 from Le Gus’t.