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Distillery Visit – Leven

Nestling deep within Diageo’s Leven global supply plant is something special and unexpected – the Leven Distillery or PLDA (Process Liquid Development Area) as it is less romantically known.  It is Diageo’s least known and smallest whisky making facility, and their 29th that produces single malt.  Leven distillery has quietly been going about its business of innovation and experimentation since production began in 2013.
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Is it Possible to Drink and Still be Healthy?

Oftentimes, when I’m at a Nerd Fitness meetup, a rebel will ask me, “Do you mind if I have a beer?”

I usually laugh and say, “Nope! Will you get me one too?”

Yeah, I run a fitness website, but as you’ve hopefully been able to tell up to this point, it’s not normal.  I write about Optimus Prime, Office Space, and the Legend of Zelda.  I generally do my workouts on a playground and run around the world for fun.

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Ben Nevis, four of them

 

 

Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2016)

Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2016)

Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2016) Four stars Long time not tried this baby, if I’m not mistaken. The packaging is so reassuringly unchanged (when did Pétrus or Yquem last change their packaging?) but I remember older bottlings were rather ridden with caramel. It’s not always the case that you may ‘feel’ caramel, but in the latter case, you really could. But… Colour: gold. Earlier BN10 were really dark. Nose: fusel oil, paraffin, iron, and green walnuts, what’s not to enjoy? And then, eucalyptus, coal smoke, and raw malt, plus a touch of passion fruit that I had never found before. In Ben Nevis 10, that is.  Mouth: what’s the distance between Fort Williams and Campbeltown? Because there is a Springbankness to this, these fatty oils and waxes, this metallic leafiness, the coal tar… Now what’s not in Springbank are these curious chocolaty lemon biscuits and the triple-sec. All that makes this a singular malt whisky. Loud applause please! Finish: rather long, and rather orange-forward. Comments: I’m pretty amazed, Ben Nevis 10 is becoming a star! Let’s just hope they won’t do any silly rebranding/repackaging. SGP:551 – 87 points.

That’s interesting, I remember fifteen years ago, not many people were caring for Ben Nevis. And then, it became a hidden gem. And now, it’s become many people’s favourite. Well, one of the favourites. It’s true that Ben Nevis is a characterful whisky, and that blandness, homogenisation and uniformity kill.

 

A lot of good things happening on the West Coast! Let’s try another 10 yo…

Ben Nevis 10 yo 2006/2016 (51.3%, Le Gus’t, Selection VI, sherry, cask #3, 763 bottles) Ben Nevis 10 yo 2006/2016 (51.3%, Le Gus’t, Selection VI, sherry, cask #3, 763 bottles)

Ben Nevis 10 yo 2006/2016 (51.3%, Le Gus’t, Selection VI, sherry, cask #3, 763 bottles) Ben Nevis 10 yo 2006/2016 (51.3%, Le Gus’t, Selection VI, sherry, cask #3, 763 bottles)

Ben Nevis 10 yo 2006/2016 (51.3%, Le Gus’t, Selection VI, sherry, cask #3, 763 bottles) Four stars763 bottles? That’s a butt! Colour: amber/caramel. Nose: used gunpowder and walnut wine. You see what I mean. Then cigars and burnt bread. With water: umami, soy sauce, more walnuts. And even more walnuts. Mouth (neat): quite a bomb! Erm, so to speak. Gunpowder and rather bitter oranges this time, artichoke liqueur, more old walnuts, cream oloroso (you may still find bottles at flea markets), and spinach cooked in beef sauce. Not quite Marmite, but… With water: careful, don’t add too much water, not all sherry monsters like water anyway, that can make them lose their stride. Gets very dry, very oloroso. Finish: rather long, with oranges and cloves now. Another touch of leather in the aftertaste. Comments: this is funny, this baby reminds me of many an old official Ben Nevis. I mean, the sherry bombs. Classic and very good – if you like this style, of course. I do. Same high level as the OB. SGP:361 – 87 points.

Ben Nevis 18 yo 1996/2015 (48.9%, Bar du Nord, refill hogshead, 150 bottles)

Ben Nevis 18 yo 1996/2015 (48.9%, Bar du Nord, refill hogshead, 150 bottles)

Ben Nevis 18 yo 1996/2015 (48.9%, Bar du Nord, refill hogshead, 150 bottles) Five stars This by some crazy Swiss. Not sure I get everything on the label, but I’m finding it rather Plonk & Replonk-ish. Check them out, I’m a fan! Colour: white wine (uh-oh)… Nose: there, this Springbanky metallic minerality again. There’s even some lapsang souchong tea and quite some coal, new engine, sunflower oil… And behind that, greengages and other ‘shy’ plums. Mouth: splendid naked westerner. I’ve got a disease, I can’t avoid thinking of Campbeltown today! Orange zests, oils aplenty, silver spoon, black pepper, even horseradish, bitter chocolate, raw rhubarb… And even a salty touch, mind you. Finish: medium, dry, mineral, saline, and even smoky… Comments: nonante points in my book. A very great dry/austere Ben Nevis. SGP:362 – 90 points.

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2015 (50.1%, Whisky-Fässle)

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2015 (50.1%, Whisky-Fässle)

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2015 (50.1%, Whisky-Fässle) Four stars and a halfFair prices, excellent selection, cool people, and great passion. What could go wrong? Colour: bronze. Nose: it’s rather got this kind of tropical transmutation (my god my English is bad), around metallic tropical fruits mingled with engine-y notes. A blend of passion fruit juice with engine oil and mint sauce, perhaps? Apologies… And flints. With water: swims like a champ. Savagnin and damp black earth. Mouth: characterful and very spicy/chocolaty. Sour cream, sour fruits (not too ripe mangos?) and chicken soup. There’s always something happening with Ben Nevis, and while I’m sure some whisky orthodoxes would find a few flaws, I find this as funny as an Italian softporn movie from the late 1960s. With water: gets very leathery. Extreme walnuts as well. Totally oloroso-ish, which the colour had not quite suggested. Finish: quite long, as long as you don’t add too much water. Comments: only minor flaw with these styles, you wouldn’t quaff more than one glass at a time, because they can get a little tiring, in my opinion. Totally non-commercial whisky (but you should buy a bottle!)