Here is the last of four Total Wine exclusives that I purchased a couple of months ago. In April, Michael K. and I posted simul-reviews of three of these: a Glen Ord, a Caol Ila, and a Laphroaig. The last is this Ben Nevis. Michael K. has a sample of this as well but we didn’t end up setting up a simul-review of this one for some reason. Like the Glen Ord and the Caol Ila, this one was also bottled by Montgomerie’s. Ben Nevis of this age, from ex-bourbon casks can be very fruity indeed and so this has potential; on the other hand, the other Montgomerie’s selections did not exactly set the world on fire. Let’s see where this one falls.
Ben Nevis 19, 1997 (46%; Montgomerie’s; cask 186; from a bottle split)
Nose: Malty, slightly cardboardy to start but below that there’s milk chocolate and orange peel. An unlikely combination but it works. The citrus expands as it sits. A drop or three of water pull out more citrus still and also some cherry.
Palate: A little blank to start and then there’s the cardboard, but as I swallow there’s a nice flash of fruit and a metallic note that works well with it. The fruit is a mix of sweet orange, tart pineapple and maybe a bit of peach. The texture is a bit thin. Water fixes the texture a bit but doesn’t do much else.
Finish: Medium-long. The fruit expands quite a bit here and the malt returns and it’s a bit more roasted now. Water washes the fruit out a bit here.
Comments: At first, on the palate this seems like it might be going in the direction of the old OB Littlemill 12 but it makes a fruity comeback, especially on the finish. Water improves the nose but is not as good for the palate. Certainly not in the league of most of the other mid-late 1990s Ben Nevis I’ve had but pleasant enough. Would likely have been better/more intense at a higher strength. I wouldn’t mind paying another $20 for 4-5% more in abv.
Rating: 83 points.