"A good independent bottling from Ben Nevis originating from the widely available 1996 vintage year. This focusses more on the grasses and tropical fruits"
(Photo from Whiskybase)
Curiously, I noticed that I had quite a few independently bottled Ben Nevis samples in my cupboard. So I looked up in the Whiskybase database if 1996 was indeed an often occurring vintage year, and indeed it is (see below for the graph). It appears that so far almost 250 bottlings have been released from 1996, which is at least 3 times more then the next vintage from the 90s (1998). Interestingly, the number of bottlings decreased after 1989, when the distillery was taken over by Nikka, to a low of 3 bottlings in 1994, before it increase in 1995 and peaked in 1996. After 1996, the average number of bottlings was between 50 and 80.
So what happened in 1996 at Ben Nevis? Apparently, it was also the year when their 10-year-old was launched. If anyone has any ideas, we welcome them, since we could not find any suggestions on the web ourselves. We will continues with our series of the excellent 1996 vintage year. First up is one from Whiskybroker, an excellent bottler from Creetown.
The arrival is quite acidic an the high alcohol percentage is felt initially. I do get some clear notes of oranges, papaya, grapefruit and some other tropical fruits. There is that metallic note that I often get with Ben Nevis, and I like quite a lot. I would not say the nose is very complex, but it is pleasant nonetheless. A full glass of sweet tropical fruit juice. After a while it becomes more complex with different subtle citrus fruit notes that freshen it up. Think of orange and lime skin, a little bit of ginger, and add to that a hand of sand, composting leaves, grass, before fruit juice is again poured all over it. Water pushes it more towards the grassy, gingery side, but I prefer this neat.
Acidic with many citrus fruits. Lemon, lime, grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, all make theirselves known. Good balance between the sweetness and acidity. Ginger, citrus fruit peel, lemon juice and lemon sweets. In the back some notes of yoghurt, oils and even a very faint hint of smoke. Obviously, also faint hints of ironwork, copper and other metals. Water does not really change the palate.
This is good, albeit not my favourite in the range. It shows the grassier side of the tropical Ben Nevis fruits, which is pronounced when water is added. I would say it fits perfectly in a Ben Nevis tasting, and it quite different from their 10-year-old standard range, which is less clean and focussed.
Big thanks for sharing the sample
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •