Ben Nevis 9, 1996 (Whisky Galore)

Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis
, located in the Highlands, is another distillery of no great reputation. On the one hand, in such cases this means you can often find independent bottlings at very good prices; on the other, it means that you take a greater chance with each bottle, as no one is clamouring to review every Ben Nevis or Glen Moray or Linkwood or Dufftown etc. etc. that comes on the market. The bottle I am tasting today is another from Duncan Taylor’s now defunct Whisky Galore line, and was selected by The Party Source in Kentucky. I bought it on a whim and didn’t open it for almost two years because I was convinced it wouldn’t be good and I’d regret the purchase–even though it was quite reasonably priced. I finally opened it and, predictably, loved it; went back for more, only to find it was all gone. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

By the time I opened this bottle, the whisky had sat in it almost as long as it had matured in the cask.

Ben Nevis 9, 1996 (46%, Whisky Galore for TPS; from my own bottle)

Nose: A little bit butyric at first, but the off-notes dissipate in a minute or so. A chalky lemony note follows and then an acidic white winey note. After another minute or two some muskier fruit begins to appear alongside the lemon: melon of some kind, maybe some pineapple. After another few minutes, crisp, tart apples join the party. It’s all very fresh and invigorating. With even more time the lemon recedes. A few drops of water seem to tie all the fruit together very nicely and now there’s a little more sweetness too (simple syrup). Ah, a couple of minutes later the tropical fruit note begins to expand. Nothing over the top but very nice.

Palate: Bright fruit and a very nice texture. As on the nose, lemon comes first, then mild notes of tropical fruit. Some pepper and spicy wood too to rein in the fruit. Very nice interplay between the fruit and the wood. Water really emphasizes the fruit on the palate as well, and this is really quite nice now.

Finish: Long and lemony with some tingly woody notes at the very end. After a while hints of the musky fruit appear and as more time passes the hints turn to strong suggestions. Water doesn’t do much for the finish.

Comments: Without water you might say there’s not a whole lot going on here, but even then what there is is rather pleasant. But a touch of water makes it a lot more interesting, and makes it not just another bright, pleasant and anonymous young ex-bourbon Highland/Speyside malt. In some ways it reminds me of the Signatory Brackla for Binny’s that I reviewed some weeks ago (though this is neither as sweet or as malty). I must chance my arm on some more Ben Nevis; hopefully, the next one will be as good. I do have a much older official bottling on the shelf as well….

Rating: 86 points

4 thoughts on “Ben Nevis 9, 1996 (Whisky Galore)

  1. I had the Ben Nevis 10 in Fort William, and thought it was worst whisky I tasted in Scotland. Glad to learn that the distillery has redeeming qualities.

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    • Rob, your report was partly why I took so long to open the bottle. Who knows, this cask may have been an outlier. More research is needed.

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  2. I finally had the Ben Nevis 9yo sample that you gave me… I don’t know when. It was just great! If tasted blind I would have most likely guessed Bowmore – the mineral, wet stone, notes, with a touch of lemon (but not briny like a Caol Ila); the complex almost nauseating floral bouquet, with sweet peas, peonies, and orange flowers; the restrained smoke (a touch of peat?), with a zesty, appetizing bitter aftertaste. I also got the pepper that you did (a fleeting memory of Talisker). The body was very good, tying everything together like The Dude’s rug.

    In contrast with you, I had high expectations from Ben Nevis – although I was a bit nervous about the young age. This did not disappoint, quite the contrary!

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