Last night I got together with some old buddies from Woodburn High School to catch up, and thought it would be a good chance to compare a couple of 21 yo Single Malt's with a 21 yo Bourbon side by side. Not all of the guys were interested in tasting them all, but we had a consensus on flavor profiles among those of us who did. Here is what we tasted:
21 year old Ben Nevis Highland Single Malt, Signatory Vintage - Bottle 375 of 652
Color was between ripe corn and light honey, with a nose of honey and leather. The front of the palate had hints of porridge and mead, with notes of leather upholstery and allspice fading to a vague hint of sweetcorn. 91/100
21 year old Highland Park Island Single Malt, Signatory Vintage - Bottle 355 of 647
Color was a deep gold, nose slightly smokey with hints of bran, malted milk, and fresh tobacco. Was peaty, but much lighter smoke than many other islay single malts. Enters the palate with honey mead flavor, adding hint of bonfire smoke fading to creamy finish of caramel, leather, and freshly toasted tobacco. 90/100
21 year old Elijah Craig Single Barrel Bourbon
Deep caramel color. Deep caramel and toffee notes on the nose. Front of the palate had faint medicinal taste of iodine, but quickly gave way to oaken sweetness expected of a bourbon of this age. Surprisingly this bourbon did not age as well as I would have hoped. The medicinal front end was extremely off putting, even though the finish smoothed out. 82/100
Overall, the Ben Nevis was the clear winner here. It is one of the smoothest scotches I have ever tasted.