Ben Nevis 1996 / Mortlach 1997 (Vintage Bottlers)

Ben Nevis 1996 / Mortlach 1997 (Vintage Bottlers)

We’re trying two of the latest releases from Vintage Bottlers. The first is a Ben Nevis 1996, from a different cask range than the one they bottled last year. Then there’s also a Mortlach 1997, which they call a symphony of paradoxes. It is part of a high-end series which revolves around the four elements.


Ben Nevis 27 yo 1996 (44,2%, Vintage Bottlers 2023, hogshead #1707, 189 btl.)

Nose: immediately convincing. Hints of paraffin, beeswax and citronella candles with apricots, pineapples and juicy kiwi underneath. Also oranges and sweet lemon candy. Then hints of honey, sunflower oil and candied ginger. A gravelly minerality as well.

Mouth: this tension between green fruits and more exotic notes again. Green bananas and whitecurrants, as well as guava and lime. Chalky and waxy notes, with light coastal touches and salted nuts. Drops of camphor, herbal extracts and grapefruit juice, with hints of white pepper.

Finish: medium length, getting drier now with herbs, vegetal oils and chalk.

A classic example of this vintage, although it’s not as tropically fruity as the #14xx range. Very waxy with the perfect amount of citrus and herbs. Available from Vintage Bottlers or HTFW for instance.



Mortlach 26 yo 1997 (52,2%, Vintage Bottlers ‘Adversum’ 2023, first fill Lafite barrique #187207, 120 btl.)

Mortlach 1997 Adversum - Vintage Bottlers Nose: plummy richness, underscored by berry jam, sultanas and honey. Then also candied ginger, orange peels and spicy notes like cinnamon and nutmeg. Slightly ethereal, mentholated notes and wet forest soil. Very light potpourri too, giving it a cognac-like rancio touch. Quite balanced and fresh, not as umami as you’d expect from The Beast of Dufftown.

Mouth: much more funky now. Plenty of tobacco notes come out, alongside the tannins related to the red wine cask. Green pepper, walnut skins, deeply infused herbal tea. Still some plummy notes, raspberry, cinnamon and treacle sweetness, but the bitterness and sourness of the wood prevails. Simply too winey.

Finish: medium length, still showing these winey elements and a fragrant sourness.

While the nose was remarkable and hinted towards cognac at times, I think the red wine influence is too strong on the palate. Perhaps we’re too sensitive to wine casks, but given the price, I would approach with caution. Score: 86/100