Ooooooh! 1996 Ben Nevis!
Yeah, it’s one of those reviews where you see a good distillery, with a good vintage, from a good bottler. You know you’re in for a treat. Then again, that raises the bar at the same time, so us geeks tend to be more critical in such cases. At least, that’s my experience.
Ben Nevis is one of those distilleries that is high on my list for a visit, tour and tasting. But for some reason it has never fit the schedule, and therefore I have only driven past in on several occasions. I just happened to never stay in or near Fort William.
So, until then we just appease our curiosity by trying to drink some of their more incredible vintages. Like 1996. But, even their regular 10 year old is out of this world. Interestingly, we might add, because when I started drinking whisky little under 20 years ago, Ben Nevis was not seen as a very good distillery indeed. Most of their bottlings were only so-so, independent casks existed but weren’t overly popular too. It’s strange how things rapidly can change!
This one then!
Yellow fruit galore! A complete fruit salad, the canned kind, in a trifle. So some boozy sponge cake too. There are quite some dry spices too, but not the heavy, baking spices. Dried ginger powder, unripe banana peels, peardrops, ‘Napoleon’.
The palate is slightly woody with dried ginger again. Dry spices, white pepper, oak shavings. Napoleon and peardrops. The sweetness that I expected on the nose is nowhere to be found. Dried coconut and a bit of beeswax.
The finish is still bone dry and keeps the white pepper and dried ginger, and lots of yellow fruit. Apples, Napoleon, dried coconut.
This is a glorious whisky indeed. It does everything you hope a 1996 Ben Nevis does. Lots of fruitiness, but not too much sweetness, a properly matured whisky. I love that the ABV is slightly lower as well, so all the fruity flavors aren’t overpowered by too much alcohol heat. Great stuff!