By now most of you have read somewhere that Ben Nevis was hit or miss. And then in 1996, they were bought out, and someone decided to only make hit whiskies. Makes sense when you think of it.
But there’s a lesser known thing to discuss before we talk about Ben Nevis 21 1996 The Whisky Agency Heads & Tails. It’s the label.
I hope I haven’t lost you all at that point. There’s a collection of not connected whiskies that all have a person on them who is flying with an umbrella. The “Harry” or “Mary” Poppins collection is what I’ve heard them called. You’ll see these out there, brought out by The Whisky Agency.
So keep that in mind. I don’t know why, but keep it in mind.
Look, the real reason I brought that up is I’ve already talked about the whole Ben Nevis ramping up in 1996 thing, so I’m just trying to entertain. Sometimes I don’t do that so well.
Oh well, nobody’s perfect. The next one will be better.
Let’s get to the whisky, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Matured in a Hogshead
Aged 21 years
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Lemon jujube, grass, tannin/tea, honey, rye bread
Sweet, with a nice amount of sugar. That said, it’s not overly sweet. The subtle sweetness lives here.
This needs time to give you the whole package. It’s more tannic and herbal after a bit, and water really turns it into a full rye and honey bread feel.
Taste: Lemon candy, cardamon, caramel, waffle, key lime pie, mango
More lemon, but not bitter or overly sour. Think a good lemon candy, not the ones I loved as a kid that were made to make kid’s throw up.
Less grass and more herbal now. Lovely caramel to round it out. However with water? That’s where this becomes complex. Lots of buttery, citrus, and tropical fruit when water comes in.
Finish: Cereal, ginger, mint, light roast coffee, lemon gelatin
Dry finish at first. More spice, continuing with the theme we’ve had which is like adults trying to adult for the first time and buying two spice racks.
Earth comes in, and there’s this wonderfully fruity, coffee flavour. Also, it is impossible to separate that coffee and fruit flavour, save for some sweet gelatin.
Conclusion: All complex, and a subtle, well put together lemon element that ties it all together.
It would be really, really easy to drink this one quickly and miss 80% of it. That would be a shame, and not just a minor one, a full-on bell ringing awkward horrible scene shame.
There’s a reason that Ben Nevis has ramped up. Even a whisky like this, which doesn’t have any huge finishes or giant flavours, is these great flavours.
Add water. Take the time. Not a daily sipper, this is a whisky geek’s whisky, pure and simple.
Scotch review #940, Highland reviews #152, Whisky Network review #1493