Ben Nevis 23, 1996-2020, 46.1% – WhiskyNerds

As with practically any 1996 Ben Nevis, and any WhiskyNerds bottling, you’re in for a treat. Now when these two forces combine, expectations get incredibly high.

I recently received this samples from Floris and Bram, the WhiskyNerds themselves, and I was able to secure a bottle with a little bit of help from ‘De Whiskykoning‘. Quite a few of them are sold through ballots, since there are only 75 bottles of this stuff, and at least ten times as many people want it.

My bottle has been shared and it took all of five minutes to fill up, so there’s no more where that came from either.

As far as I know, this is from the same batch as the recently released The Whisky Agency bottling (not reviewed yet, but had I a drop and it’s gorgeous). Strangely, those 75 bottles are either a split cask, or it happens to be a cask that was rather leaky. With the ABV being only 46.1% the last bit would not be impossible.

Of course, I asked this question (two minutes ago) and the answer is yes on the split cask. However, even to the WhiskyNerds it is as of yet unknown who owns the rest. Keep your eyes out for cask 954 from 1996, if you want…

Before diving into this sample, my hope is that it’s more fruity than the Whisky-Doris sherry cask, since there the cask had a bit too much influence compared to the normally fruity spirit. That one was very, very good too, but I prefer bourbon casks.

Sniff:
It’s quite spirit driven, but the cask has added notes of straw and white oak. It’s quite dry, but has notes of dried apple peels, apple cores and grape twigs. There are quite some hints of things visible around the distillery: moss, slate, heather. After a while it gets slightly sweeter (but still, this is not a sweet whisky) with hints of white grapes, and some floral notes.

Sip:
The palate is, not unexpected, very gentle. Some tingling hints of black pepper, but further there’s oak and heather. Apples, pears, grapes, and straw. The floral notes and the minerals are more subdued here. After a while the black pepper starts building a bit more. A whiff of mint and star fruit when I let it sit for a few minutes.

Swallow:
The finish is a bit more fruity and a bit richer. More hints of oak and straw, with dried apple and heather again. I am getting moss and dried flowers too. Apples, unripe pears, fresh leaves.

It’s a very different whisky to what I was expecting. Much more gentle, and more ‘Fort William’-like, and not as fruity as I would have guessed. That is absolutely not a bad thing, since it is a very classical whisky with lots of gentle, old fashioned flavors.

It is absolutely a winner, but one to start a night with, instead of one to end it with. The spirit is king in this whisky and after a few other drams I would guess this is too gentle to stand-up, or at least it doesn’t shine to its fullest.

An awesome pick, and I’ll gladly go through more of this, with my part of the bottle-share!

91/100

Ben Nevis 1996-2020, 23yo, Bourbon Hogshead 954, 46.1%.

A sample was kindly sent to my by the WhiskyNerds. The bottles never hit the shelf, since they sold out instantly. It used to clock in at € 200.

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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