Ben Nevis 10 Year Old

Ben Nevis 10

There are many expensive whiskies on the market today, some very good but often mediocre at best. Not only are the prices rising, but there are also extremely many whiskies released, making it difficult to find something that is both affordable and of good quality.

Encouraged by Adam’s article about the Benromach 10, it seemed like a good idea to look for another nice entry-level whisky. And so I thought it was an excellent opportunity to highlight the Ben Nevis 10 year old. Ben Nevis is often overlooked and the brown bottle with the old-fashioned label design reminds me more of an old liqueur from my grandfather’s cupboard rather than a bottle of whisky. It may not look sexy, but in the end, it’s just about the content.

It is perhaps not the most famous distillery, but it is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland and the only surviving distillery in that area. Located in the tourist town of Fort William at the foot of the highest mountain (Ben Nevis) in the UK, the distillery got its license in 1825. From then on it has known glorious days, but also bad times. After having been closed several times and exchanged owners, the distillery was finally sold in 1989 to the Japanese company Nikka Whisky Distilling Co Ltd, which had been buying malt and grain from the distillery for quite some time.

There was considerable investment in the distillery. A visitor centre was built, and almost everything was renovated, such as the concrete washbacks (yes you read that right, concrete!) that were replaced with 2 pine and 6 steel washbacks. The only thing that remained as it was were the stills.

Today the distillery is still owned by Nikka, and about half of the newmake goes directly to Japan. Where it is used for some of the Nikka blends, such as Nikka Black. So if you thought you were drinking a blend of Japanese whisky, well you’re not.

When it comes to Ben Nevis as a single malt it may not be for everyone. Its character is a little rugged and the whisky is rather inconsistent. But for me that is exactly why I love Ben Nevis, and why it regularly surprises me. So I like to buy a Ben Nevis from time to time, but I had never tried this 10 year old official release. Actually, I’ve never tried an original bottling from Ben Nevis before, but that is about to change right now.

So what does the bottle brings us? We don’t know which casks are used, but it is bottled at a very nice 46% ABV. Oh, and rumour has it, that it contains plenty of 18 year old Ben Nevis. Hmmm, interesting…

Ben Nevis 10

Ben Nevis 10 Year Old Review

Colour: Amber

On the nose: Somewhat herbal at the beginning; liquorice predominates here. This is followed by sweet oranges a hint of lemon and a gentle layer of smoke. There is some honey sweetness. A handful of oily nuts. And a faint hint of Earl Grey tea. Later some dried fruits as well, and blueberries.

In the mouth: Thick, creamy and oily – nice! There’s some dark chocolate and I’ve got a bit of peat here as well. A hint of nuts. Liquorice again and it is somewhat leathery. Then a bunch of spices, like cinnamon, a hint of ginger and some pepper. The finish is quite long, with a bit of mocha and somewhat salty.

Conclusions: Great whisky, nicely balanced and I like the fact that it is thick, oily and robust. If I had tasted this blind I would have never guessed it was only 10 years old. Can this be because it is likely to contain a portion of 18 year old whisky? If someone knows if this is true, I would love to know! In the meantime go try this Ben Nevis for yourself; it’s a good one and great value for money too. But don’t expect an easy sipper.

Score: 8/10

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CategoriesSingle Malt
  1. Roy Evans says:

    Noortje, really interesting review. In January whilst doing a whisky evening class, we were told by our tutor that the distillery chosen to beef up the quality of the 10YO. We were told that each bottle has a large proportion of 18YO stock, partly due to stock issues, and partly to improve the overall reputation of the bottling. The night we tried first it, it went head to head with Glengoyne 10YO and Glenlivet 15YO and Royal Brackla 12YO among others. It was quite a few folks favourite, and I got a bottle a few weeks later. I then met some Ben Nevis staff at the Fife Whisky Festival. They confirmed that not only was 18YO a big part of the recipe, there was also a splash of 21YO in there too. They were genuinely proud of the feedback they had received, and hoped good word of mouth would get the bottle better known. I think your review will help that too!

  2. Noortje says:

    Hi Roy,

    Thank you for your reply! I’m glad you liked my review. Great to read that Ben Nevis 10 indeed contains a large proportion of 18yo whisky. And that it also includes some 21yo. That’s some interesting information! Perhaps that explains the thick and oily mouthfeel.

  3. Juju says:

    Thanks for the review. I’m always on the lookout for new bottles to try and certainly this fits the bill. A friend of mine gave me one from Japan but it’s 43% abv and not the usual 46%. Would you have any info on this? He did say it was bottled for the Japan market. Thanks! I will open this soon and share with friends. Hope it’s as good as what you tasted even though it’s a tad “weaker”. Cheers!

    1. Noortje says:

      Thank you for reading my review. 🙂 I don’t have any info on the bottle for the Japanese market unfortunately, but I hope it’ll taste as good as this one. Enjoy it and I’m curious what you think about it.

  4. Mike Venechuk says:

    Hi Noortje,

    Really enjoyed your review. So, I recently picked up a bottle of the BN10 which is in the old style bottle. The laser printing on the back of the bottle is ” 17-6123 124″. The nose, taste and finish closely matches your review. Could this be the new “vatted” with the 18 year old but in an older bottle? Just curious. Cheers!

    1. G G Vince MacDonald says:

      I am a soon to a 71 year who is a father of a woman who is much like you (in my estimation) : strong, talented, investigative mind and able to communicate effectively and expressively.

      I am MacDonald but cane to quality whiskies late in life starting maybe 15 years ago.

      I used to be involved in the wine marketing industry in Australia from the 1980s and then, moving back to New Zealand with my Kiwi wife of 47 years, I became very interested in mainly Scottish malt whiskies but also better bourbons and rye whiskey.

      I am amazed that I missed this one until today. Your tasting notes are “spot on”. May you “Live Long and Prosper”

      My “claim to fame” is my online work from my thesis relating to the New Zealand Maori and how the media’s use of political cartoon satire was used as a weapon of mass alienation from their lands.. “Google” my name…it pops up

      G G Vince MacDonald

    2. Noortje says:

      Hi Mike,
      Sorry for my late reply. I totally missed your comment! Thank you for reading my review, glad you liked it. I have never tasted that one, so I can’t tell what the differences in taste are or the similarities. But as far as I know, the old style label is the previous Ben Nevis 10.

  5. Welsh Toro says:

    Very good review Noortje. Like you, I’ve dabbled with indi Ben Nevis but steered clear of the distillery stuff. Their reputation nose dived and even when it picked up a couple of years ago it was only as a “this is alright for the money” sort of thing. The rumour of older stock would explain some of the mature notes and I think there is older stuff in it. The other rumour is that they don’t have enough stock to keep this recipe so get another bottle if you can. I see that there is a NAS out now. Cheers. WT

    1. Noortje says:

      Thanks WT. In the meantime, I talked to a number of people who confirmed there’s indeed older stuff in it, but they weren’t people directly involved with the distillery. So I’m still not 100% sure, but it is most likely yes. Ahh yes, I saw the NAS, but haven’t had the chance to try it. And I’ve heard that rumour that they don’t have enough stock as well so I bought a few spare bottles. 🙂

      1. Welsh Toro says:

        I’m sure you’re well aware of this Noortje but I’m noticing that this is getting better and better with some time and the bottle fill goes down. I’m more and more convinced that this is pretty much always the case with 90% of all whisky.

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