While I have reviewed a number of independent releases of Ben Nevis, it has been more than three years since my last review of an official release—this single cask 1996-2012. As I’ve noted before, Ben Nevis’s somewhat dodgy past reputation has been overhauled in recent years, and this has been marked most clearly in the rising prices of their official vintage releases. The recent’ish makeover of their entry-level 10 yo, however, has not been accompanied by an unreasonable price. Not in the UK, at any rate: there you can get it for £32 ex. vat. I’m not even sure if it’s in the US. What pops up on Winesearcher is the old 10 yo (which had a different label), and that’s going for $75 and more. That might make it the priciest 10 yo on the market—and that older version was not even very good. This one is very good; since taking the picture, I’ve consumed half of the bottle—and though I have another on the shelf next to it, I might have to get another when I’m in the UK next month.
Ben Nevis 10 (46%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Malty, slightly rubbery, farmy, medicinal (though not phenolic): yes, this is Ben Nevis. As it sits, it gets fruitier (orange, lime peel). Quite a bit of salt too and some sage. With more time still, there are flashes of tart mango. Brighter and more acidic with a few drops of water; and there’s a bit of cream too now.
Palate: Leads with the fruit and roasted malt. Oranges first here too and then some tinned pineapple as I swallow. Very nice texture. On the second sip there’s pepper and just a bit of oaky bite. The fruit gets muskier with time. Water emphasizes the fruit but also pulls out more of the malt (mixed in with a slightly yeasty note).
Finish: Long. As the musky fruit fades out there’s more of the roasted malt and some chocolate and wood smoke. The oak has the last word. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Is this the best official 10 yo whisky out there now? I might have to give a recent release of the Laphroaig 10 a taste to compare. Anyway, it’s very Ben Nevis and it’s very good and it’s a very good value (at the UK price). I recommend it highly.
Rating: 88 points.