Ben Nevis – 21 Year Old – 1995 – Faultline – Alexander Murray – K&L Selection – Single Malt Scotch Whisky | 46.4% (92.8 Proof)
Color/Appearance: Looks like normal apple juice that comes in a large plastic container. Thin smooth legs. This label with its custom artwork for Faultline is amazing. So cool! I really appreciate the effort it took to get all of these labels created and synced up to make this group of bottlings look so cohesive and unique. This whisky was matured in a second-fill bourbon hogshead.
Nose: White peaches, mango, green grapes, plums, biscuits, lilac, linseed oil, malty dough.
Palate: Sweet nectar, peaches, cantaloupe, a fruity white wine, malt syrup, hay, summer sunshine. So light and elegant in your mouth. Feels classy.
Finish: A hint of grapefruit juice tang, a tiny taste of wintergreen minty coolness, maybe the slightest whiff of peat. I don’t think this is peated, but I get something here. A rather short and non-memorable finish. Almost no oak whatsoever which is perfect for this style, but that does let the tiniest teensiest bit of raw alcohol taste back in there.
Overall: This whisky is well matured with complex fruits and a nicely aged barley malty-ness. The spirit’s character is not overwhelmed by the cask at all. This is a nice example of a “naked malt”. I define that as a non-peated, non sherried, plain old bourbon cask single malt with no bells and whistles. This has been the style of whisky that has taken me the longest to appreciate. There is no huge blast of peat or rich deep wine casks to hide the alcohol behind. The malt has to stand on its own. Some younger casks of this type can be harsh with loads of young undesirable notes, or casked into super fresh and oaky bourbon barrels that hide the spirits character. These methods are quick and easy ways to bring such casks to market. But in my experience this type of malt needs a gentle cask and many years of aging. Which is what this Ben Nevis has. This has given it a light clean fruitiness that feels elegant and doesn’t cover the gentle maltiness, that so quintessentially says scotch whisky. I was a little scared when I saw this cask was purchased from Alexander Murray. Not from personal experience, but because they have loads of boring low proof offerings that fill the liquor isle at my local Costco. But this cask is a winner. I was hoping for a bit more of the Ben Nevis weirdness, but this is a delight. While I like this a lot, I have had a few other “naked malts” that I liked more. Plus this style of whisky is still not my favorite. But more casks like this will certainly help make a case for this profile.