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Whisky Reviews

Ben Nevis 1997, 22 Year Old, The maltman Japan Exclusive (52% ABV) & Glenfarclas 1992, 26 Year Old, Family Cask 5984 4th-Fill Butt (53.5% ABV)



On a recent holiday to Ho Chi Minh City, we managed to dram quite a few excellent whiskies. Other than the Ben Nevis and Glenfarclas being reviewed, there was also the SMOS Bunna 27yo Marriage of Casks which was delightfully floral and fruity, as well as the extremely tropical and fresh Convalmore 1984 32yo. I need more drams on the Bunna and Convalmore to really get a handle on their character. I've already drammed this specific Ben Nevis 4 times (ordered this at the same bar multiple times in the latest visit and a past trip) so I'm intimately familiar with it. The Glenfarclas I asked for a double shot since it was happy hour with 30% off all drams. I've been wanting to try a 4th-fill Glenfarclas for the longest time having heard about the old slow-growth oak that went into those casks. So let's just get to it:



Ben Nevis 1997 22yo Maltman Japan exclusive (52% ABV)

Nose: Oily and tropical. Lemon curd, lemon pound cake, calendula, passionfruit, vanilla gelato, wax. Water and air reveals more cacao nib tea, mangoes and bicycle tires.

Palate: Silky texture and excellent alcohol integration. Vanilla chantilly, peach cobbler, banana milkshake, mango curd, minerals.

Finish: White pepper, more passionfruit, then loquat, slightly herbal notes of oregano.

This is a super tropical and pastry-forward Ben Nevis with the industrial character providing more of a underlying foundation of texture and depth than the flavour. This is my favourite late 90s Ben Nevis bar none and I'm looking out for a bottle at auction. Others I've tried tend to go for more of a butterscotch or apple/pear profile. I would give this 89 because I think the finish lacks just a little bit of complexity.



Glenfarclas 1992 26yo Family Cask 5984 4th-fill butt (53.5% ABV)

Nose: A light vegan "oyster" sauce/shiitake mushroom funk that gives way to sarsaparilla, liquorice, kumquat, coconut caramel, mangosteen, salted lime, pear syrup. Water mutes the brighter fruitiness that rises above the earthy notes.

Palate: Textured, with cranberry sauce and liquorice then brightening up to toffee apple, blood oranges, and something vegetal like leeks right at the end.

Finish: Toasty, vegetal and savoury with toasted seaweed and perilla oil that continue to linger even as macerated fermented strawberry and fresh rambutan emerge.

So delicious. I love the perilla oil note especially. This is the sort of balanced old-style sherry I adore. A 92 if there ever were one. Trades blows with the fantastic 1972 sherried Glenlivet I had recently. The old Glenlivet has a touch more complexity and richness but higher ABV and bright fruitiness makes this a more dynamic experience.