I am somewhat unusual, I gather, in having liked every Ben Nevis I’ve tried. It probably helps that I’ve tried very few. The last Cadenhead’s Small Batch I tried (Friday’s Auchentoshan 14) reversed a negative trend; I hope this Ben Nevis 17 won’t reverse a positive one. Let’s get right to it.
Ben Nevis 17, 1996 (55.2%; Cadenhead’s Small Batch; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split with friends)
Nose: Wood glue and musky fruit (apricots, a bit of stewed apple). Some raisins too and something vaguely savoury. Gets brinier as it sits. With time there’s some peppery melon a la some Littlemills I’ve tried. The fruit gets richer and richer with time and water gives it tropical accents on the nose as well.
Palate: Very much as on the nose at first with more toasted wood. But the fruit is much richer and deeper. Once again, shockingly drinkable at full strength. On the second sip there’s more toasted wood and roasted malt shading into mocha/bittersweet chocolate. Much later there’s a lot of brown sugar along with the roasted malt and some vanilla too; and some peach jam to go along with the apricot. With a lot of time (more than an hour) and water the tropical fruit that was earlier showing up only on the finish arrives much earlier. And I may be imagining it but there’s a lick of smoke now too.
Finish: Medium-long. The fruit gets more and more tropical on the way out and the toasted wood and bitter notes frames it nicely.
Comments: This is really rather nice. 17 yo cask strength whisky of this quality for less than $100 (at least where I bought it in MN)? Get a bottle today.
Rating: 88 points.
I have a bottle as well. This is rather yummy. Your notes are very accurate. The whisky is incredibly tight at first. Blossoms to its full potential after a few days being opened.
Sounds good. Unfortunately, I’ve having difficulty finding any of these bottles left. I’ll have to keep looking off-line.
A place in DC has a number of bottles, by the way, but for a lot more than I paid for mine. I’m out of the country for a few weeks otherwise I’d offer to help you out with the store I got mine from (It’s not clear if they ship and in any case their online store doesn’t list these)–last I checked they still had at least one left.
Thanks. I saw the DC ones. I didn’t expect anyone to be able to help me; my comment was just more about your tasting notes sounding like the kind of whisky I like and lamenting that I couldn’t find this bottle.
Drinking this again tonight after a long time and I really have to recommend this bottle very strongly. If you like bourbon cask whisky that is fruity and malty and woody (without being tannic) this is the whisky for you–especially if it is available <$100 in your area as it is in most places in Minnesota.
Finished my first bottle today (have another in reserve), and I have to say this is one of the best new whiskies I’ve had this year and on the short list of best values.
I concur! A fine whisky, good value, difficult to find.