Welcome back to the continuing story I call: Holy damn I still love late 90s Ben Nevis and am sad it’s so expensive. I’m not helping by writing about it, and giving it high scores, and I’m not changing.
But enough about me, we’re here to talk about Ben Nevis 24 1996 Single Malts of Scotland. Which isn’t the oldest Ben Nevis I’ve had, but it is the oldest from the vintage year when the price started going up. So celebrations are in order? Kinda? I don’t know, I let my 2,300th whisky review fly by like a fart in the wind, maybe I’m not the best person to judge what should be celebrated.
Nonetheless, when I have the chance to at least try a Ben Nevis from 1996, I’m all in. And as I haven’t seen as many from the early Aughts yet, there could be a few things at play:
The warehouses were filled up to the end of the millennium, as everyone needed to make sure they were ready for Y2K, and then eventually they balanced back out after selling off bottles in the last few years. Or maybe up until 2000 they were figuring out how much whisky they needed versus didn’t need, and 1998 is where the algorithms of management accounting are making sense. Aliens, or whatever we end up calling call not-from-Earth, higher conscious beings. Perhaps even friends (communal ahh sound).
So let’s let the good times roll until Ben Nevis becomes a name we don’t hear anymore. Single cask, older than other 90s Ben Nevis I’ve had, single cask, and all from a hogshead. But how does it taste? Let’s see, shall we?
Vintage: November 1, 1996
Bottled: July 14, 2021
Cask type: Hogshead
Cask number: 1730
No of bottles: 177
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Mango, apple, grass, strawberry jam, banana
Tropical fruit, temperate fruit, and grass. If that doesn’t scream “North American Vitamin C diet”, I don’t know what does. Whatever it is, it’ll probably be brought out by GOOP soon to rip off some idiots and say Nasa and quantum had something to do with it.
Fruity. I meant to say fruity and sugar rich. That’s what I meant there.
Taste: Wintermint, banana runts (the candy), grass, lemon custard, Werthers (again, candy)
Wow, that’s a big minter, cooling flavour and some candy sweetness. Doesn’t differ too crazy in style from the nose.
It differs in the amount of flavour, which has been turned up like you’re revving the car and your radio has that annoying volume thing still on. More tropical fruit, lots more candy, and the same amount of grass. It’s creamier, tastier, and a dessert dram.
Gee, I wonder why I keep hunting these down? Can’t be due to my sweet tooth.
Finish: Papaya, almond, mineral, toffee, cotton, coffee
Nutty, caramel/toffee rich, some mineral to cut it all, and eventually the grass has gone to a cotton like softness and opened with some coffee bitterness.
I’m impressed. They took a whisky that was quite sweet and rich, and ended it balanced with bitter flavours.
Conclusion: Tons of fruit but also tons of really great flavours, all against a really nice caramel backbone going on throughout. It never felt too much, always well balanced, and made me want even more.
I mean, who isn’t debating Ben Nevis from the late 90s at this point? Are we surprised by all of this? Even one of the worst ones was still quite tasty, and this is far from that.
Maybe I call out the nose for not being interesting enough? Even then, it’s a ton of fruit. I love fruit, you love fruit, we’re hardwired to want it because sugar and we’re hairless ape things. Try this if you get the chance, buy it if you’re a fan of Ben Nevis.
Scotch review #1584, Speyside review #266, Whisky Network review #2309