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  • Writer's pictureHarold

1996 Ben Nevis Vol. 02

**Check out Volume 01 here.**

My series of 1996 Ben Nevis continues with today's installment of some of the oldest stock from that legendary vintage. There were a couple of 27 year old's released towards the end of last year, according to "the base" though, so perhaps we'll see some more in the near future. You do have to wonder how much stock is currently remaining from this wonderous vintage. After going on such a run in recent years of seeing so many '96ers bottled from...just about every independent bottler...we can only hope the well has not run completely dry. After all, it would be a disgrace not to see what such a wonderful distillate could do in a cask after 30+ years.

Ben Nevis (Decadent Drinks) 1996/26 Year |WhiskySponge - Edition No. 52|  Refill Hogshead - 50.1%
Bottle Image Credit: Whiskybase

Ben Nevis (Decadent Drinks)

1996/26 Year |WhiskySponge - Edition No. 52|

Refill Hogshead - 50.1%

Full disclosure, I'm expecting great things here, as I've already tried an ounce of this in an informal tasting, roughly 9 or 10 months ago...basically before I started to jot down my lofty expectations (gave it a 91 back then) are a bit skewed. However, the palate does tend to change over time, so let's see if it's held true to my initial thoughts.

Appearance: Chestnut/Burnt Amber

First Whiff: B'loonies blow up, really.

Nose: There's the classic sleek, minerality up front (familiar to me from most of these late 90's BN's) with a more chemical-y/floral vibe at first. Chalky rose petals and bright orange blossoms leading into some ripe tropical fruits...honey mangos, passion fruit and star fruits.

Palate: Ohhh sooo creamy...sorry!...oily and woody, too with some crisp, apple juice acidity. Thick but well-rounded...great balance here. Coconut custard and fresh lemon peels coat the mouth while earthy/funky fruits like cooked guava, passion fruit and ginkgo grab the spotlight.

Finish: Long, with just the slightest bit of resinous, prickly bites. Never even thought about water.

Summary: It seems we're starting to see how those fantastic fruit basket of sweet flavors, from the 20-25 year range of '96 BN's, are starting to evolve into a bit more rounded complexity after some more time in the wood. Excellent stuff from the "Sponge," as usual...and perhaps better than I remember?


Ben Nevis (Nickolls & Perks)  1996/26 Year |Inaugural Casks| Refill Hogshead 854 - 51.9%

Ben Nevis (Nickolls & Perks)

1996/26 Year |Inaugural Casks|

Refill Hogshead 854 - 51.9%

After having already reviewed (and thoroughly enjoyed) the Springbank and Bruichladdich from N&P's "Inaugural Casks," I'd say my expectations have only grown for the last of this debut trio, which was released back in October of last year. Though, the more keen-eyed observers (like myself) may have noticed the bottling date for this cask, as noted on the front label, was actually some time in 2022. Being the nosey whisky nerd that I am, I reached out to one of the staff for some more info and was informed that the cask was indeed disgorged and held in an IBC until the time of its bottling which, according to the laser code on the bottle, was in late August of 2023.

On a more reflective note, I try not to take price into account, though these past few years have left me with a bad taste all too often. It's worth mentioning however that all three of these "Inaugural Casks" fetched a bit of a premium during what I would call a highly subjective and saturated time in the market torn between curiosity and apathy. The latter, in this case, seems evident as you can still find these available on the N&P website as of the date of this review.

Appearance: Chestnut/Palo Cortado Sherry

First Whiff: Honeysuckle

Nose: A familiar dusty fall type of vibe from Ben Nevis...some pumpkin pie welcomed with warm apple cider, a bit of butterscotch and light caramel. Straightforward and sweet with some added touches of coconut custard and banana cream pie.

Palate: Creamy and warm, a bit sour at times. Touches more of the tropical fruit side of the scale here...banana chips, dried pineapple. With water: Slightly fatter now...cakey...Louisiana cake (my favorite Entenmann's btw).

Finish: Warming till the end with a building floral and peachy presence that settles on red plums and prunes.

Summary: Really nice levels of complexity here, fighting between floral, fruity and an underlying cake batter/doughy-ness. It's a fairly familiar and strikingly consistent style of maturation from this distillery/vintage. One I just cant get enough of...and look forward to hopefully seeing evolve in all this refill wood for many years to come.




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