More Nevis, always more Nevis. In fact we have two Ben Nevis 1996 recently bottled in the Single Malts of Scotland series by Elixir Distillers. One of them is part of the first batch of USA exclusives.
Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996
(55,3%, Single Malts of Scotland 2019, sherry butt #2019, 580 btl.)
Nose: ah, the dirtier kind of Ben Nevis. Buttery notes and toffee with fermenting fruits and whiffs of yoghurt, alongside the usual chalkiness and wet concrete. Certainly meatier and wilder than the 1996s we’ve fallen in love with. Missing the tropical side. Walnuts and wax candles.
Mouth: more fruity now, with ripe pineapple, oranges, as well as hints of dates. Hints of roasted bread with marmalade. Espresso. Black peppercorns. Menthol and liquorice.
Finish: quite long, with hints of gingerbread, cocoa and toasted oak.
Too dirty, these notes are always a blocking point for me. Even though you can sense the same kind of juicy spirit underneath, it’s overshadowed by a musty sherry influence. Can’t have ’em all. Sold out, at least from TWE.
Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996
(52,7%, Single Malts of Scotland 2019, sherry butt #1479, 405 btl.)
Nose: much nicer in my opinion, more classic with pipe tobacco and dark cherry notes, hints of exotic wood, dark muscovado and chocolate. Nutty notes. Wax as well, perhaps a little clay, yeast and touches of baked apple.
Mouth: really good. Starts a little austere (tobacco, walnuts, nutmeg, an intense herbal and slightly bitter side) but you also get the pink grapefruit and ripe tropical fruits of expressions with less sherry. Lamp oil and paraffin. Sweetened tea. Orange liqueur, then some crushed peppercorns and more nutty notes.
Finish: long, still fruity, mixed with chocolate and herbs.
Much more to my liking, a really great version that finds an excellent balance with the sherry cask. This is a USA exclusive, distributed by Impex Beverages.