My recent batting average with Ben Nevis is very high. I can’t remember the last one I disliked and most have been very good indeed; in particular a few that were distilled in 1996 (for example, this, this and this). That’s good news because this is a Ben Nevis, 1996 too. Therefore, as per science, this is likely to be very good. Let’s see if that’s the case.
Ben Nevis 18, 1996 (50.7%; Liquid Treasures; bourbon hogshead; from my own bottle)
Nose: Big fruit (sweet citrus mixed in with tinned pineapple and a bit of peach) along with a big malty note as well as some cocoa. In other words, very Ben Nevis. The malt gets yeastier as it sits and some tingling oak emerges as well; the fruit is all still here though. Sweeter and more floral with a few drops of water.
Palate: Leads with the musky fruit (makrut lime peel mixed in with the pineapple plus a bit of passionfruit) and then the malt. There’s more oak here along with some pepper and more of a custardy note. Very nice texture at full strength. The pepper gets more pronounced as it sits, the fruit gets brighter, and the cocoa from the nose shows up as well. With more time still it gets sweeter and there’s a leafy note as well. Sweeter here too with water and the malty/peppery complex turns metallic.
Finish: Medium-long. The lime expands and then eases out leaving pepper and tingling ginger and oak; at the very end the passionfruit pops out again. The finish is extended with water and the citrus expands, getting a little chalky as it goes before turning sweet again at the very end.
Comments: This is textbook fruity, funky Ben Nevis. Just not quite rich enough on the palate to make it to the next tier. I preferred it neat.
Rating: 89 points.