|Later than usual, I know.|
Had to do some ironing
Ben Nevis 12yo 1996/2009 (46%, The Vintage Malt Whisky Co. The Coopers Choice, Refill Butt, C#817, 428b): it dawned on me last month that I have never reviewed this properly. I opened it years ago, and the level went down dramatically, recently, so it is now or never, really. Nose: despite the butt being a refill, this has a clear wine influence on the nose -- although that could just as well be the Ben Nevis character: I have always found it rather wine-y. Here, we have fortified wine and game sauce -- a whole game casserole, in fact, with seasonal mushrooms and all. There is also a distinctly cereal-y character to this nose, with roasted oats. Further, it has dairy (as in: warm milk, rotten milk) and overripe, decaying plums. Actually, this is very plummy. Dry earth and mouse droppings, in the back, fresh tobacco, even some wax, late in the game -- let us call them waxy plums, then. Mouth: soft and easy, it is salty, creamy in texture, with warm, wet sands, farm-y earth, roasted oats here too, dried hops and dried-mango slices. So dry, in fact, that the fruity side is almost absent, leaving only the chewy, rubber-like touch. Stewed rhubarb makes a late appearance, bitter marmalade and Selkirk bannock. Finish: warm, it has milk chocolate, half a teaspoon of coffee grounds to the bottle, cocoa butter, dried-mango slices (again, the mouthfeel, more than the fruity taste), a drop of fortified wine and liqueur pralines. In June, jazzpianofingers thought it was close to a Brora. I am not so sure about that, but it is a very decent drop. Perhaps just a little bitter to score higher. 7/10
Speaking of Brora...
Brora 21yo d.1982 (46%, Direct Wines Ltd. First Cask, C#279, b#343): nose: this one is immediately more complex and mysterious, with dunnage warehouse, lots of seal wax, candle wax, citrus peel, melon skin, vegetable oil (sunflower, canola), and also nuts (hazelnut, macadamia, skinless Brazil nuts), before coming back to wax, with waxy apricot, waxy plum skin, crystallised Chinese gooseberry and honey-glazed chestnut. Later, blotting paper and drying ink join the fun, alongside paraffin wax and rubber boots. Mouth: here too, it is a deluge of wax, with seal wax at the forefront, electric cables, plastic buckets, Rumtopf, iron tonic, polished wood (as in: a faded piece of polished furniture). The texture is creamy enough, and it certainly does not feel watery, at 46%. Thick apricot juice, peach nectar, chocolate-y mouse (for fans of the Ronnies). Finish: oooh! What a lovely combination of crystallised apricot, canola oil, raspberry oil (if such a thing exists), and fresh, glossy paper, hot off the press. It soon turns chaff-like and husky, with seed mix and jam. Jam-coated seed mix? Ah! why not. Maybe, there is a whisper of cocoa butter and dried figs, too. This covers many aspects of the flavour spectrum, perfectly integrated to deliver something that is better than the sum of its parts. 9/10
Littlemill 28yo (50.5%, Robert Graham Treasurer Selection, C#99, 230b): nose: a whiff of powerful glue, quickly overtaken by an avalanche of citrus and tropical fruits: tangerine, pink grapefruit, satsumas, lime, guava, golden passion fruit, pineapple, Chinese gooseberry, almond, regular gooseberry in a pie casing, sprinkled with powdered sugar -- that'll be a gooseberry pie, then, eh? It also has pear shavings, crisp apple, fresh paint, lemon marmalade... A proper avalanche, I tell you! Yellow fruits soon join in, with soft, mellow peach and ripe apricot. Some green is here too, namely fir tree and pine needles (little of that), lilac, and gorse. How do you spell: 'Phwoar?' Mouth: citric on the tongue too, with lime, acidic grapefruit, pomelo, barely-ripe gooseberry, white peach, tinned pineapple, squashed Chinese gooseberry, acidic and fruity, lemonade, apple peels, lemon marmalade, fig and baking soda. Finish: all the goodness from the mouth and nose are still there, making sure one does not forget their greatness. Grapefruit, lime, tinned pineapple, crisp-apple shavings, Chinese gooseberry, banana rum, satsuma, tangerine, pomelo and lemonade. Well, this is obviously bursting with citrus-y flavours. Tropical fruits are more timid, at this point, though still almost perceptible: guava, papaya and pomegranate. Peach is still there, and a drop of milk-chocolate coulis completes the picture, to augment the fruit. This is simply wonderful. I stick to my opinion that it is one of the best (if not the best) Littlemill ever bottled. At the very least, it is the best I have tried. 10/10