Ben Nevis 18 Years Old 1996

Highland single malt scotch whisky

50.6% ABV, £62.15 for 70 cl from Whiskybase

Score: 90/100

BenNevis18yo1996WB

What they say:

Bottled in celebration of 60,000 bottles on the wall.

Distilled November 1996 at Ben Nevis distillery in the Highlands and matured a full 18 years in a Sherry Butt before bottling at cask strength of 50.6% in February 2015, producing 606 bottles.

BenNevis18yo1996WB

What I say:

I have developed a little bit of a soft spot for Ben Nevis expressions. Sadly notoriously poor before Nikka purchased the distillery in 1989. Since that time improvements have rapidly and steadily been made and now the whisky is amongst some of the finest for this under-exposed distillery. Sadly most of this fine whisky wings its way to Japan, however a little can be found here in its native Scotland and sampling of their recent OB’s revealed some rather tasty whisky in unusual cask maturations.

Colour:

Dark copper and refractive amber gold (13/20), medium/thick tears slow and oily

Nose:

Almost savoury with roast chicken and thyme potato crisps, meaty, beef monster munch, leathery and a little tannic, stewed or fermented fruits, peach, pear, apple and nectarine, poached with Armagnac, wintergreen

Taste:

Fruity, figs and dates, some molasses and treacle, gently spiced, white pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and herbal rosemary, thyme and sage, thick and chewy in mouthfeel, tannic leather and red fruits, elderberry, cranberry and raisin with a cereal muesli, some nutty hazelnut, almond and hints of walnut, sticky toffee pudding packed with dates, latte coffee, cocoa powder and gentle earthy notes with perhaps a whisper of peat smoke and rich heather honey and a touch of floral lavender.

Finish:

Long, tannic and drying, toffee, molasses and dates, herbal wintergreen and thyme

Overall:

Simply delicious, I was a little concerned about how savoury this noses but on the palate this transforms into a plethora of wonderful flavours. This one reminds me more than a little of the Mortlach 16 Years Old Flora and Fauna only with a gentle herbal nature and a little less spice perhaps.