I reviewed the (then) new Ben Nevis 10 early last year and really liked it. In fact, I asked—largely rhetorically—if it was the best entry-level malt whisky on the market (and it was very fairly priced too). In response it promptly went off the market. The distillery apparently ran out of stocks that would have allowed them to continue to make it to the same specifications—there’s an account of this in a review on Whiskybase or you could take a look at Michael K.’s recent review which summarizes matters. Rather than go completely off the market the distillery formulated this one-off cask strength release, which is a vatting of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and ex-wine casks. And it is a vintage release from 2008 distillate. Since then the regular 10 yo has indeed come back on the market. This is good news, but it must be said that I have not read any reviews of the new release and am therefore only hopeful that it will be very similar, if not identical to the batch I really liked. This cask strength release I can tell you—spoiler alert—I don’t like as much, I opened it not too long after buying the bottle some months ago and thought it was just okay. I then took it to one of my local group’s tastings and it did quite well there. The bottle has since sat at below the halfway mark for a couple of months—I’m curious to see if it has improved further.
Ben Nevis 10, 2008, Batch 1 (62.4%; from my own bottle)
Nose: That very Ben Nevis kind of medicinal: not phenolic but a mix of malty, bready, yeasty, gingery notes and just a hint of rubber gaskets on old medicine bottles. Gets dustier as it sits and the wine notes expand—red fruit sweetness, a slightly perfumed quality. The wine notes expand with water.
Palate: Comes in hot and sweet and then the salt expands as I swallow. It’s drinkable at full strength but it’s too hot. On the second sip there’s a scorched, leafy kind of thing happening. Not much change with time. Okay, this needs water. Less hot, expectedly, but also (uninterestingly) sweeter with water—strong port notes.
Finish: Medium. At full strength it’s the really the alcohol that registers most clearly along with oak spice and salt. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Well, it hasn’t changed very much. This is not bad but it’s a little too hot and jumbled and winey for my taste. Not a patch on the regular 10 yo—I”m glad it’s back (if it is indeed as it was before being discontinued).
Rating: 82 points.
This bottle has been below the halfway mark for a few months now and it has finally softened up. There’s still a rubbery note on the nose but not as much as before. It’s far less hot on the palate and the wine notes are better integrated. Still nothing amazing but I might bump it up a point tonight.