Category Archives: Ben Nevis

Spirit of the Highlands (Ben Nevis 49yo spirit)

Bought: Whisky Broker, 20th April 2015

61.79/100 – Whiskybase (average from 21 member votes)

I like it when an independent bottler tries something different, and this is the case with the Whisky Broker and his release of the ‘underproof’ (29.5%) ‘Spirit of the Highlands’ from the Ben Nevis distillery. The law states that for a spirit to be called whisky it has to be matured for at least 3 years and be a minimum of 40%. The Glenglassaugh distillery released several bottlings as ‘spirit drinks’ rather than ‘whisky’ when they were younger than 3-years-old. But there’s no lack of maturity with this juice from Ben Nevis. Distilled on March 1966, it started its life before England won the world cup, and before I was born!

I always think it’s difficult to rate something that doesn’t fall into a category where you know the rules. Nevertheless, we all know what we like and dislike. Usually with whisky, adding a touch of water can help open up the flavours, but at 29.5%, you don’t want to weaken it any further. Comments on Whiskybase suggest that the nose is good but the taste lets this spirit down. Bitterness prevails mixed with oak juice. I can’t imagine that sucking on an old oak tree would be very pleasant!

Some experienced whisky drinkers mix their whiskies. I’ve seen Ralfy on You Tube do this several times, where he takes a better whisky to enhance a lesser one, or adds a dash of ‘cask strength’ whisky to another that needs a boost of alcohol. Several Whiskybase reviewers mention mixing this 49yo with something else. One uses a Bowmore Tempest (55.1%) and another uses a Ben Nevis 1991 (58%), with good results. I will have to start experimenting!

Ben Nevis 49yo

Ben Nevis – That Boutique-y Whisky Co (batch 1)

Bought: Amazon, 21st November 2014

89/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
86.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from two member votes)

I’ve had my eye on the independent bottler ‘That Boutique-y Whisky Company’ for a while. On the downside, all their offerings are NAS, assuming you consider an age statement important. Personally I don’t care, so long as the whisky tastes nice. Certainly one negative is the bottle volume of 50cl rather than the more standard 70cl. So, at a diminutive size, what’s inside needs to be better than average. Things start to improve when you discover that most, if not all Boutique-y’s whiskies are cask strength. And lastly, the company generally gets excellent reviews.

Speaking of reviews, Jim Murray says of this Ben Nevis in his Whisky Bible “massive chunky delivery. All kinds of fruit in play, as well as barley sugar concentrate” and “a malt to match the mountain: just…big!” Then he scores it 89/100 which is “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”.

You can’t help but notice the naïve, almost VIZ-like cartoons on the bottle labels, all of which tell a quirky story and relate to those involved in the bottling process. Initially I didn’t like the artwork but I’m warming to it now. It’s certainly unique in the world of whisky, which adds a certain charm. I got bottle no.129 of only 161 released so there aren’t many opportunities to get a taste of this interesting whisky.

Ben Nevis NAS 50cl

Ben Nevis 1997 (Carn Mor c.12-year-old)

Bought – Single Malts Direct, 3rd October 2013

83.33/100 – Whiskybase (average from 3 member votes)

This Ben Nevis is part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2009, it’s from a limited edition of 1275, Cask No: 252. Non-chill filtered,  no added colour and 46%, so the makings of something very delightful!

Although reviews for the 20cl Carn Mor collection are hard to find, I did stumble across this assessment of the Ben Nevis on Whiskyconnosr by markjedi1, a keen whisky drinker from Belgium with over 1000 reviews. He scores it 79/100, with comments that sound very reasonable. He also has his own blog in Flemish, which proved to me that I don’t understand a word of Flemish! No surprise there. But he also has his own whisky website in English The Toshan Man which I’m delighted to give a plug to.

Tasting notes from Whiskybase:

Nose: Sweet, malty, bananas, caramel, rubbery, some smoke
Taste: Sweet, caramel, fruity (grapefruit, oranges), smoky, aniseed
Finish: Medium long, sweet, aniseed

Ben Nevis 1997 Carn Mor 20cl