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 Year Old Review
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.
Any commission links will buy new blocks for Noortje