Four Your Eyes Only: Ben Nevis

Like buses, occasionally, four Ben Nevis of considerable age turn up at once.

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Ben Nevis 1996/2022 25yo Claxton’s Warehouse #1 “A Different Cut” refill sherry butt #C22035 [319 bts] 52.4WB88.54[20]

  • N: The old yet bold one’s can be a little deceiving at first, abv sometimes disguising age to a certain extent. Rife with a woody maltiness, the infamous Nevis eggy funk is present but integrated into the main body of work whilst the refill sherry butt is a low-key finishing > re-racking affair.
  • T: The age at this stage is obvious as soon as it hits the palate. Consolidated malty honey, a boisterous citrusy woodiness, a sweet oaky eggy strand,…  vintage Ben Nevis!
  • F: The intensity soon falls away. Malty-fresh pleasant lingerings remain. 
  • C: Distillery profile – check. With some reservations, there’s certainly plenty to admire. Get the water right to get the best of it.

Scores 87 points

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Ben Nevis 25yo TBWC Batch #16 10th Birthday [btl #369/783] 55.8% [500ml] WB88[11]

I find it fascinating that despite its ‘marmite’ divisiveness, there’s always consensus over the flavour profile of each & every Ben Nevis.

  • N: This one is showing signs of a divergence towards a jammy tincture though the savoury funk conflicts with that a little.
  • T & F: We’ve a woody fizz into a short finish, but I can forgive it.
  • C: Overall a little strange but in a good way.

Scores 87 points

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Ben Nevis 1996 25yo Murray McDavid Mission Gold for Tyndrum refill hogshead #1582 [250 bts] 53.9% WB89.50[11]

  • N: This one smells sweeter and gentile, perhaps even refined compared to the Claxton’s given a single grain-likeness from an underlying gritty/grainy/mineralic spirit note. Teasing it out, fruits into jams & compotes are my reward.
  • T: Nothing other than Ben Nevis, this one goes in & out of a number of varied flavour camps. Fruity yes, but with some herbal eggy malty toyings, the profile leans towards the savoury.
  • F: Savoury > sweet and decidedly peppery, the finish is clean with a soft vanilla-ey maltiness.
  • C: Again, distillery profile, check. A commendable single malt whisky, but don’t think for a moment that it’s worth its current [secondary] market value[s]. Age-related stylistics aside, consider the standard 10yo [WLP188 WLP289 WLP388] in the same quality ballpark.

Scores 88 points

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Last but not least, it’s take #3 for me and this modern Nevis masterpiece.

Ben Nevis 1996 19yo Ob. cask #1424 51.8% WB90.42[45] WF93 WLP92

  • Take #1 [2021]: 1996 is to Ben Nevis what 1965 is to Springbank, or 1972 is to Glendronach [WLP]. “Quintessential Ben Nevis” [WLP92].
  • Take #2 [Oct 2022]: A forthright faultless cracker, this is everything you could want from Ben Nevis [WLP93]. I take home another generous sample to have alongside a handful of other 25yo Nevis’s for a future tasting.

Take #3 [Nov 2022]:

  • N: When whisky is ‘just-so’, there’s no talking of casks this or finishings that and listing descriptors feels redundant. What the previous three 25yo are saying, this younger expression is saying all of the things more eloquently.
  • T: It’s a fine line, this flavour hunt/search for quality. Whilst you’ll enjoy the previous 25s time and time again, this is the bottle you will lament when it’s finished.
  • F: Remember at the beginning when all whisky tasted the same? Don’t share this with those at the beginning. Then again, you could argue that cheap blends aren’t particularly ideal beginnings either, often putting people off the spirit rather than inspiring them. That’s what Balvenie Double Wood is for!
  • C: “Music is like a dream. One that I cannot hear”, a quote attributed to Ludwig van Beethoven. If not as sensational as Glen Mhor 1937 [WLP95] or Bowmore 1955 [WLP96], as Ben Nevis goes, it’s a beauty – perfect in its own way.

Scores 92 points

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