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Whisky Reviews

Ben Nevis 2012, 9 Year Old, bottled for Aloha Whisky supported by Rudder, 57.6% ABV



Japan's whisky bar scene has a reputation that precedes itself. Among the newer names that have joined legendary names such as The Mash Tun and Zoetrope is Aloha Whisky, for whom this was bottled. I've not been to Japan yet, but it's on the cards. This is a young Ben Nevis bottled for the bar at 9yo and clearly ex-bourbon.

Distillery: Ben Nevis

Region: Highland

Price: ~10USD/20ml dram; 12,100 yen retail

Cask Type: Bourbon hogshead

ABV: 57.6%

Chill-filtered: No

Color: [0.2, pure straw](https://i.imgur.com/CIl8iNs.jpg) (natural colour)

Drammed after 15 minutes in air, out of a nosing glass, from an open bottle with about a third left.

Nose: Vanilla meringue, chilled Taiwanese pickled tomatoes (cherry tomatoes pickled in preserved plum syrup), then a mineral edge, I'm inclined to say limewater.

Palate: Not quite as viscous as nearly 58% ABV would seem, but this may be partly confirmation bias from the colour. No complains on alcohol integration. Fizzy character of the flavours help in this regard. Cream soda, dried osmanthus, frosted flakes.

Finish: Mint chocolate chip ice cream fades quick, then honey, cod liver oil, which seems to be a characteristic I keep finding in Nevis distillate, and fennel.

Conclusion: This is a subtle dram, a curious mix of almost wispy yet unusually oily for the age, strength and cask type. A SV UCF bourbon 8yo I had a bottle of and previously reviewed (#68 on my post history) provides useful contrast. That was a lot richer and more complex in flavour, but also out of balance, bitter and astringent, with notes of overly-steeped ginseng and angelica root. It is a game of tradeoffs.

This Aloha bottling makes for a lot easier and more balanced drinking, but the complexity does not quite match. Unfortunately, the really fun notes like dried osmanthus and mint chocolate chip ice cream are much more reticent than I wished it was. I also wished for a much creamier mouthfeel to match the flavour profile. I've drammed this three times at various points along the bottle, slowly, with abundant water and air. I get that some casks have a light touch, but their role should then lie in developing and deepening the distillate along the lines of its base character with time, which I don't think this has quite achieved to the level we expect an IB single cask cask strength Ben Nevis of this age.

Score: 84

If this were named by the SMWS: Mint Chip Soda Float