We're looking at some younger IB Ben Nevis bottles, both finished in interesting cask types.
Thompson Brothers Ben Nevis 9yo Rye Cask
This 9 year old release from the Thomson Brothers was finished in a rye cask that was previously used to mature Cromarty Breweries Double Rocker Ale.
It’s got a distinct bread/yeast aroma straight off the bat. Lots of malt, like sticking your head into a working mashtun. There’s a sweet note here that reminds us of tinned sweetcorn, along with a nuttiness too. There’s some acid in the background, and as we continue nosing, we find a young spirit note too. Going back after some air, we’re getting oats boiling away in milk on the stove and wholewheat bread.
A little sweet and sour going on as you first take a sip, verging on the more sour lemon juice side. It then goes into the oats on the stove we found on the nose, but with a lot of that lemon squeezed in. The mouthfeel is a little disappointing, it feels quite flat and the finish, albeit a decent length, is mostly sour with a kick of alcohol in the background. Going back we’re getting some of the wholewheat bread, fresh barley, dry hops, pebbles and wood.
Nose (with water)
Water seems to have accentuated the deep, dark notes of roasted barley, coffee and slightly charred wood. Well done wholemeal toast. We’re getting some pickled walnuts, aquavit, rye, and an aroma that reminds us of kvass, an Eastern European drink made from bread.
Palate (with water)
We’re getting more sugars coming through, barley sugars to be more precise. There’s still the underlying lemon and lime sour mix, but it’s slightly more balanced now. There’s some thyme appearing too, along with some moist wood and perhaps a little cherry right in the background. The finish benefits from the reduction, bringing a little more balance. We’re also finding the palate to be slightly more oily, which we appreciate.
It’s probably the most bread-like dram we’re ever tried. Unfortunately it’s not our favourite whisky, too astringent, however water does bring it more into balance. Some may be into this style of whisky, but for us we’d choose something else.
Dram Mor Ben Nevis 11yo Cask #195
This still available Dram Mor release was finished in a 1st fill Ex-PX hogshead and bottled at 11 years old.
Butterscotch, light caramel, fudge with a herbal undertone. We’re getting a little pine sap, dried thyme and wet oak. It’s not overly sweet on the nose, it’s got a balance of richer sugars and wood. There’s a little honey and grape must in there too. There’s some pineapple and peach far in the background. We’re not finding too much of the PX influence here, but it’s still a very pleasant nose.
We’re greeted by a really nice oily texture in the mouth, vanilla custard, some fresh lemon zest, tinned pineapple, then following into bitter oak. The alcohol is prominent on the palate, knocking it slightly out of balance. We’re getting some white pepper, a touch of green chilli, cinnamon sticks and marzipan. It’s got a light sweetness, it’s not too heavy or rich. There’s a minerality on the palate too. The finish has a decent length, dry oak with slightly tannic red grape flavours.
Nose (with water)
A funk has appeared, along with a richer, dried fruit and syrup aroma. The sugars have become darker, brown sugar and we’re starting to find that PX influence beginning to appear. There’s also dates, nutmeg, cinnamon and the lightest whisp of smoke in the background. The honey and caramel aromas are still present, just pushed aside to allow the other aromas to take centre stage.
Palate (with water)
The oily mouthfeel is retained, now with a brown sugar sweetness, rich caramel, molasses, treacle with a hint of that acidic lemon. The finish retains its length, with treacle and dates carrying through. Saying that, we’re still finding the alcohol a little rough even after water.
We initially thought the PX finish was non-existent, but there was still some lovely buttery, sweet notes coming through. We then added water and the dram transformed, bringing those PX flavours to the forefront. It’s not a sherry bomb by any stretch, but the PX does give a nice additional dimension to the whisky. We do find the alcohol a little out of balance, but we’d go back for another dram.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.