Ben Nevis 1996 26 Year Old RMW Cask #1711 & Cadenheads Ben Nevis 10yo Spring Authentic Collection 2023


We're looking at a polarising distillery for us, one we enjoy older expressions from but struggle with the younger counterparts. We've got a release from the famed 1996 vintage alongside a 10 year old from Ben Nevis.

Ben Nevis 1996 26 Year Old RMW Cask #1711

Region: Highlands

ABV: 48.9%

Price: £285.00

Todays first review is a 1996 vintage Ben Nevis that has been bottled at 26 years old by Royal Mile Whiskies. 213 bottles were released.

Nose

The nose opens with notes of treacle, pear drops, green apples, pepper, and apricots. Giving it a little air and there’s some caramel, orange peel, whipped cream, and strawberries. We’d have pegged this as a little younger as it’s not got the woodiness we’d expect to have appeared at this age. Saying that is still a very complex nose that rewards you as you go back to it.

Palate

On the palate there’s a burst of fruit going into a nice peppery spice on a long finish. We’re getting apricots, apples, and caramel sauce. The alcohol is in good balance, and it has a nice mouthfeel. The whisky develops nicely in the glass with tangerines, lemon juice and honey appearing as we sit with it. It’s a nice easy sipper and a good example of a '96 Ben Nevis.

Nose (with water)

Reduced were getting much more caramel, a little warehouse funk, apple cider vinegar and chocolate sauce. There’s also a little icing sugar, and caramelised walnuts. We’re finding this is now less tropical and more like a confectionery shop.

Palate (with water)

The mouthfeel has been diminished with water and we’re finding that there’s a little grapefruit bitterness now. It’s also spicier, with pineapple cubes having appeared along with a little dark chocolate. Personally, we’d skip water on this one it really doesn’t benefit it.

Conclusion

A solid, easy drinking Ben Nevis that’s a great example of a 1996 vintage. For us this is a 7.5, but others may score this closer to an 8.

Score: 7.5/10

Value

In this day and age it’s a good price for such a popular vintage.


Cadenheads Ben Nevis 10yo Spring Authentic Collection 2023

Region: Highlands

ABV: 55.9%

Price: £55.00

Distilled 2012 this release has been in a ex-Longrow Red (Cabernet Franc) hogshead since 2018. 270 bottles were released.

Nose

The nose opens with buttered crumpets, hay bales, salted caramel, with a slight hint of sulphur too. We’re also finding raw red meat, caramelised chocolate, violets, and oatcakes. A typically funky Ben Nevis nose, with less red wine influence than we’d expect for such a long finishing period. The alcohol feels in good balance, and we’re finding some honey nut cheerios appearing after some time and air in the glass. There’s a light smoke in the background too.

Palate

The palate begins with dirty dark chocolate, varnish, tannic grape must, moving into cherry compote as it develops in the mouth. We’re also getting bitter melon, caramac bars, black pepper spice and more of that dark chocolate in the form of brownies. The mouthfeel is good, it’s got a syrupy texture, and the finish does last for a decent length, although it’s a bit too spicy and astringent for us.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose brings out more red fruits, raspberry and cherry mostly, alongside Bovril, more undercooked meat, picking spice and a herbal, thyme-like note too. There feels like more smoke now, but in a charred oak type of aroma.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate has more chocolate and caramel notes, but not much of the red fruits. It’s brought out more of the initial bourbon cask, and mellowed out some of that bitterness. We’re getting some almond marzipan too. We think the dram benefits from a splash of water, if for nothing else but to tame some of the spice and astringency.

Conclusion

We’re not the biggest fans of young Ben Nevis, so this is a bit of a miss for us. The red wine finish has given a bit of fruit, and a bit of sugar too, but overall it’s a bit funky, spicy and bitter without the balance we’re looking for. With water, there’s a significant improvement, but it’s still not making its way into our favourite dram list.

Score: 6/10

Value

Good value, all things considered.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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