Ben Nevis week got off to a disappointing start with Monday’s 20 yo from 1996. That one, bottled by Single Cask Nation, was from a refill oloroso puncheon. Today I have for you another from the 1996 vintage, with an additional year of age. It is also from a refill sherry cask—a butt in this case, and the type of sherry not specified. This one was bottled by the Daily Dram—which, I have to constantly remind myself is an independent bottler unrelated to the Nectar’s “Daily Drams” series. Anyway, I’m hoping this will reset this week of Ben Nevis. Odds are good as I can’t remember the last time I had two indifferent Ben Nevises in a row.
Ben Nevis 21, 1996 (50.6%; The Daily Dram; refill sherry butt; from a bottle split)
Nose: A classic Ben Nevis arrival with roasted nuts, malt, ginger powder, yeasty dough and rubber gaskets from old medicine bottles. On the second sniff there’s a fair bit of salt and just a hint of smoke. As it sits some sweet citrus emerges (orange peel and juice). With time the yeast comes to the fore and is joined by some white pepper. Water pushes the yeast back a bit and brings out more citrus.
Palate: Comes in here with more tart citrus and pepper; everything else from the nose is here as well but more muted. A bigger bite than expected at full strength and good texture. With time there’s more fruit and some oaky bite. Okay, let’s see what water does. It brings out a lot more pepper and more oak spice to go with it.
Finish: Long. The citrus expands a bit and there’s some chalk. Gets sweeter as it fades with a bit of peach coming out to join the citrus. Oak here as well with time. With water the fruit expands a but the oak that shows up on the palate turns more bitter here.
Comments: This is very Ben Nevis and not very sherried at all. I don’t object to either of these things though I do miss the more exuberant fruit that can be more reliably found in bourbon cask Ben Nevis. This is probably one that’s more for Ben Nevis fans. I preferred it neat. And, yes, we’re now back in expected Ben Nevis territory. Let’s hope Friday’s cask keeps the momentum going.
Rating: 86 points.