Abbey Whisky is an online shop that specialises in more unusual whiskies. They’ve recently begun to offer a series of their own limited edition bottlings called The Rare Casks range. I’ve sampled a couple before, one from Bunnahabhain and one from Caperdonich, and they’ve both proven very good indeed. When a couple of samples of their new additions turned up in the post, it got me rather excited. Let’s dig in:
Ben Nevis Aged 16 Years
Ben Nevis distillery was founded in 1825 and sits at the foot of the great mountain itself. It was acquired by Nikka in 1989. You don’t tend to see much of its produce around; even though its core expression is a ten year old, I’ve only ever tasted its whiskies in the form of independent bottlings. This Rare Casks offering was distilled back in 1997 and aged in a single sherry hogshead cask, before being bottled at 55% ABV.
Colour: pretty dark, hints of ruby in that. On the nose: big blast of fruity alcohol. Red currants, plums, a real jam hit. Back in again and more subtleties open up, but this is a real stewed fruits, syrupy, heavy aroma.
In the mouth: boom! This is a big bruiser of a sweet dram. Medium weight in the mouth, not at all oily, but it sticks like treacle just about everywhere. All of those late summer fruits rush on through. Such sweetness is almost overwhelming at first, but just when you think it’s got you in a headlock it lets you go. A touch of something like tannins and strong woodiness towards the end, which almost trips up the long and very, very warming and peppery finish, but it soldiers on regardless. If this doesn’t warm you up on a winter’s day, nothing will. By far and away the best Ben Nevis whisky I’ve tried.
You can get a bottle only from Abbey Whisky for £64.95.
Glencadam Aged 22 Years
Glencadam distillery, located in the Highlands, was also founded in 1825. When it came under the ownership of Allied Domecq PLC (itself now under Pernod Ricard), they decided to mothball it in 2000. But it was brought back from the abyss in 2003 by Angus Dundee PLC. This Rare Casks whisky was distilled in 1991 and aged in a refill bourbon cask, before being bottled at 55.3%.
Colour: much paler than the Ben Nevis, a light gold. On the nose: much more complex and stately than the Ben Nevis. It’s not a full frontal assault. In fact, there’s an almost intense floral sensation, mixed with some citrus notes. Grassy. Yes it’s sweet, but a creamy sweetness, like melted ice cream. Nutty.
In the mouth: now this is just a great whisky. There’s a lovely oiliness that lets the liquid seep into all corners of your mouth. Just such a high class sweetness about it. Not a bruiser at all, and yet there’s an incredibly warming feel. Cashew nuts. Some unusual fruits, a sort of grapefruit perhaps, and lashings of creamy caramel. The finish is endless, the oils just sitting there on your tongue and refusing to budge. A cracking texture.
Again, only available at Abbey Whisky for £76.95. That’s a great price for a delicious whisky of this age.
Both drams are very good indeed. The Ben Nevis received a “Whisky Magazine Recommended – Silver Award”, which is fine praise indeed. But to me, the Glencadam is exceptional. They also continue the trend of excellence that Abbey Whisky have established with this Rare Casks range. You could pick up any of these and be assured of something special.