While presenting the redesigned Ben Nevis 10 Year Old in 2021, the distillery also debuted a new expression called Coire Leis. As the old version of the 10 Year Old became pretty popular at some point, we assume this new NAS release was launched to take some pressure away from older stocks.
The name comes from a lochan on Ben Nevis, providing water to the distillery. The black label mentions it comes from expertly selected casks – first fill bourbon according to most sources. There’s no age statement but based on the price (which isn’t far from the 10 year old) and the casks available to independent bottlers, I would expect this whisky to be around 7-8 years of age.
Ben Nevis Coire Leis (46%, OB +/- 2021, first fill bourbon, L21)
Nose: naked and mashy. Barley eau-de-vie with chalk and grassy notes, as well as sourdough bread and some plasticine. Later also lemon oils and a very light waxiness. Unripe pear. Floral yoghurt and buttery biscuits.
Mouth: full of barley again, with gristy notes, porridge and a subtle herbal bitterness. Hints of grapefruit peels, unripe pear and ginger. A slight spirity touch as well. Sour lemons, white pepper, wee oily notes.
Finish: good length, with more chocolate and toasted oak.
The good news is that Coire Leis is unmistakably Ben Nevis. It has a lot of the fun(ky) notes that are so common in young indie bottlings. That said, this characteristic whisky is also rather spirity and unsexy. Not a bad core range (Coire range?) expression, but nonetheless far from the magical older versions. If you’re in the market for a cheaper Ben Nevis, I wouldn’t ignore the MacDonald’s Celebrated Ben Nevis either. Available from The Whisky Exchange or Master of Malt for instance.