By Kurt Maitland
There are two stories here: that of the Ben Nevis Distillery and that of Signatory. Ben Nevis is a malt whisky distillery at the foot of the Ben Nevis mountain, the highest mountain in the UK (4,411 feet). near the Victoria Bridge to the north of Fort William. Founded in 1825 by John McDonald (known as “Long John”), it is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland. It can be tasty but in my experience, it really shows it’s worth in its older releases.
Signatory is a world-renowned independent bottler. Long time readers of The Whiskey Reviewer have often heard of my love of independents and how they often be a great bang for the buck. If you hit Signatory’s website you will come across the following – “Signatory Scotch may be the most discerning independent bottler of Scotch in the world. Signatory sources malts from the best distilleries in Scotland, selecting the best single batches and bottling only the finest casks within those batches.”
Some hype is to be expected from a marketing statemen, but Signatory does bottle some fine whiskies. One of those is this 24 Year Old Ben Nevis, bottled at the upper tier of standard Scotch strength, 46% ABV.
Color: Pale Yellow
Nose: Lemon Meringue, furniture polish, and baked apple crumb with a tinge of cereal maltiness.
Taste: The mouthfeel here is slightly oily, turning spicy with the lemon citrus of the nose. If that’s all there this would be a good simple one trick pony of a whisky. But it’s not. Hold this chameleon in your mouth for a while or let it get a bit of air and other notes show up. With time in the air or a long hold in your mouth, that lemon citrus turns to a dessert of sweet lemon drops and hard candy.
Water peels away much of the citrus and leaves you with the candy caramel and apple that was fighting to be heard over the lemon citrus notes. I prefer to drink my whisky neat but this release tempts me to say a little water is best.
Finish: Seriously peppery with a bit of oak tempered by a fruity sweetness that rewards your patience.
I love this whisky. Unfortunately, it not being made anymore, although Signatory has replaced it with a cask strength version. So, every remaining bottle is a cut-rate unicorn you can acquire for a reasonable price.
Strangely, this is cheaper in the UK than the States. Much cheaper I hate to say it, but EU and UK stores have this release for less, even with the shipping. The stateside prices I’ve seen have been $180 and over, but if you search (and get a little lucky) you might get two bottles shipped to you from Europe for less. Regardless, I heartily recommend that you seek out this release.