Cadenheads 10th Anniversary Sherry Series Ben Nevis 10yo & Adelphi Ben Nevis 10yo cask #201


We've got a couple of heavily sherried drams from Ben Nevis up for review today.

Cadenheads 10th Anniversary Sherry Series Ben Nevis 10yo

Region: Highlands

ABV: 53.7%

Price: £20.00 (20cl)

Today's first review is of a 2013 vintage Ben Nevis that was transferred to an Oloroso hogshead in November 2020, before being bottled in 2023. A total of 1,138 20cl bottles were made available as part of a three bottle set that celebrates the 10th Anniversary of the Cadenhead’s Club.

Nose

The nose shows big, bold oloroso aromas, lots of tobacco, roasted nuts, burnt toffee, brioche buns, leather book bindings and dark cooking chocolate. We’re not detecting too much of what we assume was the original bourbon cask, this is a sherry monster. Although, there is a bit of spirit character here, it’s oily, with some petrol, grease, and tarmac too. The alcohol is in good balance, and there’s not really any spice coming through. Time and air brings out some sweet balsamic vinegar.

Palate

The palate… is literally just sherry. Dried fruits, almonds, cinnamon sticks, with a warming spice that creeps up on you as the palate develops. There’s also a lot of sweetness upfront, brown sugar, caramel and maybe a little bit of rum funk too. The mouthfeel is a touch thinner than we’d like, but there’s still some texture there, and the finish lingers on with tangy cola bottles and milk chocolate. There’s also a touch of vanilla cream frosting as we go back, but it’s predominantly sherry, sherry and more sherry.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose has a bit more up front chocolate, cake-like, but moving quickly into rancio, along with dirty, earthy, herbal aromas.. woody herbs, dried leaves, wet dirt. There’s a menthol, bruised mint leaf-like aroma appearing as well. It’s lost some of that Ben Nevis funk and is now more classically Sherry (if that was even possible!).

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate is a bit flatter, more spice appearing, with bitter dark chocolate, coffee grounds and treacle syrup. The mouthfeel has also taken a hit which is a touch disappointing. The finish remains a decent length, with more bitter chocolate appearing.

Conclusion

A beast of a sherried whisky, this has really delivered on the promise of first fill oloroso. The dram still maintains some of that Ben Nevis funkiness, but really we’re just drinking 50+% ABV oloroso… and we’re ok with it. Water doesn’t do the dram any favours, and we’d suggest avoiding adding any.

Score: 7.5/10

Value

The anniversary set comprised three 20cl bottles, each at cask strength and heavily sherried, priced at £60. It's difficult to dispute the value offered by this set.


Adelphi Ben Nevis 10yo cask #201

Region: Highlands

ABV: 58.6%

Price: £85.00

This release was distilled in 2012, and has spent 10 years maturing in a first fill oloroso hogshead. It was bottled by Adelphi in 2023, in an outturn of 248 bottles.

Nose

The nose opens with lots of oloroso, alongside cheap aftershave, pencil shavings, warehouse must, grape skins, blackcurrants, roasted nuts, twigs and red kola. We’re also finding dark chocolate chips, balsamic vinegar, dried leaves and cinder toffee. It’s not particularly sweet, and as we go back we’re also finding wood varnish, almond skins and figs. Pleasant to nose, but a little drying and lacking some of the complexity we’re searching for.

Palate

The palate has way more upfront sherry, warming cinnamon and nutmeg spice, freshly brewed coffee, stewed red berries, sultanas moving into drier, nuttier flavours as the palate develops. The mouthfeel is really nice, it’s like straight cola syrup from a draft soft drink machine. This is sweeter than the nose suggests, but there’s still drier notes, dark chocolate, well-cooked caramel and toffee crisp bars. There’s a bit of spice here that lingers on the medium finish.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose has cinnamon, cloves, and charred wood moving into chocolate before the Ben Nevis funk starts to dominate. There’s also a note of pine cones, lemon bon bons, maraschino cherries, more red kola, and white vinegar. Instead of opening this up reduction has actually closed the nose off turning it very one dimensional.

Palate (with water)

With the addition of water, the mouthfeel becomes slightly disappointing. However, the palate now acquires new notes, including a blend of orange peel and its accompanying pith bitterness, singed caramel, overcooked lava cake, and, similar to the nose, more of the distinctive Ben Nevis funk. The finish still maintains a good length, and there's also a noticeable reduction in spiciness.

Conclusion

Full maturation oloroso seems to be the holy grail for most whisky enthusiasts, and this dram doesn’t disappoint. There’s lots of sherried goodness to be had, but it is on the drier side, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It still maintains some of that Ben Nevis funk behind all the sherry influence. It’s a good dram, we’d probably only have one in an evening though.

Score: 7/10

Value

Yes, it's a little pricey, but it is full maturation and that comes at a premium.

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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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