...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Ben Nevis 23 year old 1996 Whisky Trail Birds Series

Did you survive that week of American whiskey reviews? No? Dreadfully sorry to hear that. Well, had you lived through it you would have been rewarded with a pair of Ben Nevis reviews this week! Both from Elixir Distillers. Both from the newly famed 1996 vintage. And if you still believe in distinct differences between individual whisky vintages, despite knowing the intricacies and chemistry of single malt production, then tell The Easter Bunny I said hello. You'll have an easier time instead convincing me that the world's fate is controlled by some long bearded dude who lives above the clouds. His name is MAO. But if you want to send me some Caperdonich 1972 and Longrow 1973 samples, I won't stop you.

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Independent Bottler: Elixir Distillers
Range: The Whisky Trail
Age: 23 years old (1996-2019)
Maturation: hogshead
Cask #: 892
Outturn: 258 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 51.8%
(from a bottle split)

Oh my. The nose is positively soaked with fresh lemons, grapefruits and loquats, with some mouldering stone fruits in the back. Then there's tapioca pudding, digestive biscuits, spent synthetic oil, stones and bung cloth. And the palate. There's a swirl of intensely tart fruits and bitter liqueurs and some industrial funk. It gets earthier and greasier with time, somehow also gaining a mintiness in the background. It has one of the earthiest finishes I've experienced, piles of soil and stones and diesel exhaust. Then a mix of Angostura bitters and yellow nectarines.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Yeah, it's good and stuff. But seriously, see those neat notes? It doesn't top those.

This has the WOW factor. Not a lot of distilleries can get there anymore, but......Ben Nevis, man. After twenty-three long years in a great hoggie this whisky delivers a long, gorgeous, complex and delicious experience, which has led to a rare instance of Diving for Pearls being more enthusiastic than the whiskybase crowd. I look at the unopened Ben Nevii on my shelf, knowing one has the goods, but can any of the rest reach this level?

Now, about this 1996 vintage...

Availability - Maybe a few retailers in Europe
Pricing - around €180
Rating - 91