Ben Wyvis (Pronounced: ben WHY-vis)
57°41'38.17"N, 4° 9'24.57"W
Dalmore, Teaninich, Balblair, Glenmorangie
Closed (in 1977)
1 Wash still, 1 Spirit still (both pot stills)
None; both stills were removed and sold
Invergordon, Ross-shire, IV18 0HP, Scotland, UK
Just one or two - and to be frank they're hardly 'official'
On WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
1) The shape of the old stills of Ben Wyvis was 'enhanced' before they started their second life at Glengyle.
2) The original Ben Wyvis distillery in Dingwall (Ross-shire) was founded 1879 by D. G. Ross and sold to Scotch Whisky Distillers in 1887 - the same year whisky writer Alfred Barnard visited the distillery. SWD was liquidated soon afterwards, in 1889. The liquidators sold Ben Wyvis in 1893 to a subsidiary of Kirker, Greer & Co. in Belfast; the Ferintosh Distillery Co. Ltd. The new owner changed the name from Ben Wyvis to 'Ferintosh' in the same year.
3) The Ben Wyvis 'distillery' used 1 mash tun, 6 washbacks and 2 pot stills to produce Ben Wyvis malt whisky.
4) The equipment to produce Ben Wyvis malt whisky was installed in the Invergordon grain whisky complex in 1965, only six years after the complex was built in 1959.
5) These days, the Invergordon grain whisky complex is owned by the Whyte & Mackay corporation.
Well, I've sampled two different expressions of Ben Wyvis whisky, but I failed to make notes on both occasions.
So, for now, this is the only distillery profile on Malt Madness without any tasting notes.
My Track Record used to contain a complete overview of all the single malts I've tried, but when I passed the 2000 malts mark (and the list wouldn't fit on two separate HTML pages anymore) I gave up. My Liquid Log still contains my tasting notes on most malts I've sampled and scored - but finding notes on a specific expression could be tricky. You might want to use the search box at the top of this page for that. The mAlmanac now contains personal selections of the best and the worst single malts I've tried so far - as well as the ones with the highest 'Bang-For-Your-Buck' value.
But those are all just my own, purely personal opinions. Check out the Malt Maniacs Monitor on Malt Maniacs for my
scores on all expressions I've tried so far - and those of almost all the other certified malt maniacs as well.
The Malt Maniacs Matrix contains a few thousand single malts that were sampled and scored by at least four different malt maniacs, so you can compare our individual opinions.
I haven't made any notes on (official & independent) bottlings of Ben Wyvis Scotch whisky over the years.
Besides, my tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Ben Wyvis page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the handful of Ben Wyvis expressions that have been released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
Let me be the first to point out that the picture at the
right isn't the actual Ben Wyvis distillery; I couldn't find
a decent picture of either the Ben Wyvis 'distillery' or the
large Invergordon grain whisky complex that actually
was the home of Ben Wyvis. So, unlike almost every
other distillery in this guide, Ben Wyvis wasn't a set
of buildings - the picture is an 'artists impression'...
And there's not much I can tell about Ben Wyvis from
my own personal experience anyway; if memory serves
I've only ever tried two different expressions and I
didn't make proper tasting notes on either one of these
occasions. Well, I can live with that - bottlings from this
distillery are so rare that only a handful of readers of
the site would ever be able to compare their notes with
mine anyway. Besides, there probably was a reason
why they closed Ben Wyvis again after a decade...
And in case you are wondering: that's not considered fraud
either - even though the auction house benefits from inflated prices because their commission is based on the final sale price. With that in mind, it's hardly surprising that McTears initially tried to ignore the e-mails from several whisky lovers that pointed out that this bottle was not actually distilled at Ben Wyvis and had a
of 25 Euro's at best. It wasn't long before the news of the ridiculous estimate by McTears (and the subsequent ridiculous price paid by the ignorant buyer) had spread across the whisky anorak community on the world wide web.
Within a week the handful of e-mail and blog postings had evolved into a full scale PR disaster for McTears.
The eventually decided to cancel the sale 'to protect the buyer'...
Hmmmmm... That sounds a bit like the 'morning after condom' ;-)
So, Ben Wyvis only produced whisky for a little over a decade
(between 1965 and 1976) and was a
fairly obscure distillery to begin with. To make matters worse, it wasn't the first distillery by that name.
The first whisky distillery, also known as 'Ferintosh' in Dingwall was built in 1879 and closed in 1926.
As far as I know, Invergordon was never involved with this distillery.
Nevertheless, in 1965, the Invergordon distillery (located in the area of the same name) built an all
new 'Ben Wyvis' distillery next to their own grain whisky complex. They used the malt whisky that was
produced at Ben Wyvis distillery almost exclusively for their own blends.
That's another factor that makes bottlings of Ben Wyvis as a single
malt whisky such a rare thing; they simply made hardly any of them.
What's more, this second 'Ben Wyvis' distillery has been silent since
1977 and it is now dismantled - the stills are now enjoying their
second still life at Glengyle in Campbeltown. All these factors make
Ben Wyvis an extreme rarity, when we had well over 10,000 single
malts on the Malt Maniacs Monitor, only 3 of them were Ben Wyvis.
Despite the fact that the (second) distillery had been gone for a
quarter of a decade, Invergordon released a 'Ben Wyvis' single malt
whisky in their 'Malts of Distinction' range around 2000. Since the age
statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky is only requided to specify a
minimum age for the whisky in the bottle, it's theoretically possible
that the bottles contained Ben Wyvis malt whisky. Given the price of
a measly 19,99 euro's, I'll bet it was a bastard malt whisky instead.
Is that fraud? Well, not technically speaking
- after all, they owned the brand name.
Nevertheless, the aim was clearly to mislead dim-witted malt whisky lovers. Within the
malt whisky world, it's customary to use the name of the distillery where the whisky was
distilled as the brand name. Sometimes a distillery uses different 'brands' (like Longrow
which is made at Springbank distillery), but the names of closed distilleries are usually
considered sacred. Well, until Invergordon released the 'Ben Wyvis' at the right that is...
Well, at least the people that bought a bottle at a 'Gall & Gall' store only got defrauded
to the tune of 19,99 euro's. However, a few years later (March 2007) at a McTears whisky
auction a second hand bottle of this ten year old 'bastard' whisky was sold for 360 GBP.
That's without VAT and 15% commission for McTears - but still considerably less than the
original estimate of the resident whisky expert Martin Green at McTears: 500 pounds!
Is the distillery or