It took some doing and the sample that Wu Dram Clan sent me has now seen more of Europe than I have in the last decade, but eventually it arrived home.
Of course, it was a rather highly anticipated whisky, since it’s a Wu Dram Clan bottling, and it’s a Ben Nevis from 1996! This must be the top scoring vintage for the distillery, much like 1981 is for Lochside, 1972 was for Caperdonich, and if I would think a bit longer and a bit harder, I’d be able to come up with some others too.
Anyway, Ben Nevis Distillery, at the foot of the mountain of the same name, in Fort William. A distillery I have driven past on several occassions, but have never visited. I would love to, but having to sit through ‘Hector the Giant’, or having no time to do so held me back.
Anyway, a highly anticipated whisky, initially available for € 260, but currently going for at least € 600. It’s been a week since it’s release, after all. Prices are bound to go up if you wait long enough…
The initial wave of citrus is unmistakable. Quite some orange, but heaps of lemons follow that. Some coriander seeds for a bit of spiciness. Somehow, it reminds me of rye whisky, with the citrus and spice combination, but much more gentle and a bit more rich too. A whiff of mint, gentle oak and fresh barley. After half an hour it gets a bit more foresty with ferns and moss.
It’s gentle on the arrival, with orange and lemon leading the way again. Fresh grain, freshly cut oak and spices. Even though spices are important (and I’m very bad at indicating which is which) it’s not a harsh whisky at any point. The palate has some vanilla and other orchard fruits (apples and pears), but mostly lemon.
The finish focuses on fresh lemons and a bit of lemon balm more than the palate did. It’s more in line with the nose. Some notes of vanilla and pastry too, with the spices coming back after a couple of seconds. That rye whisky like thing again.
This, dear reader, is an absolute stunner of a dram. I might be a bit more inclined to love this since I love rye whisky, and happen to love most lemon-flavored things too. But, in short, this whisky shows what great Ben Nevis should be like and it shows why the distillery is so popular nowadays. An absolute belter, flavorwise.
Thanks to Wu Dram Clan for the sample. I should have bought the bottle…