Maltbarn Ben Nevis 16yo 1997/2013 (53.2%): A random pick from my sample yard... It is a single cask Ben Nevis bottled at cask strength by German independent bottler Maltbarn. The whisky is distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2013 from an ex-bourbon barrel yielding only 91 bottles at 53.2% percent.
Color: Very pale, Pinot Grigio... Must be a refill barrel.
Nose: Pine needles, dry forest soil and rosemary sprigs. Sigg stainless steel water bottles and dusty unmalted barley. Straws and Golden Delicious apples. Sulphur..? It didn't even touch the sherry barrel... Odd but there are definitely some milk gone bad and unstruck matches even if they are way at the back. Fresh mushrooms... Actually quite promising for an ex-bourbon matured whisky nut like me. Airing helped with sulphur notes and adding a few drops of water amplified all the other good qualities. It noses like Raymond Armstrong era Bladnoch bottlings now which I absolutely adore...
Palate: Very creamy and a tad hot at this abv... Latex gloves, chalk and vanilla flan. Still metallic and musty. Maltesers and apple juice. Sweet... Water tamed it quite a bit for sure but sadly flattened the palate at the same time. Very easy drinking now but unfortunately less interesting... Unripe cantaloupe slices, eau de vie, alpha alpha sprouts and perfume. Pear compote and freshly sliced Granny Smith apples. I should be more conservative about adding water.
Finish: Medium long when uncut, short after adding water. White pepper, vanilla extract and toasted oak.
Overall: At the end I definitely would love to have a bottle... I know that it's not everyone's cup of tea but it's definitely mine. I wholeheartedly agree that it could be more interesting, that it lacks complexity or that some might find it bland but like I said I liked it. It's grassy, sweet, fruity and still fresh and young after 16 years. Thanks a lot to Florin for the generous sample...