Hopefully The Grandest Ben Nevis Tasting You’ll Read On The Internet Today

There is no grand thesis behind this article. No passionate stance I am advocating, no call to arms or action for the whisky community.

Instead, there is a number: 50. This’ll be my fiftieth article for Malt. For a guy who takes it one article at a time, who frequently thinks he’s going to run out of things to say (arguably has?) and doesn’t know where the next article is coming from, I’ll raise my bat to the pavilion and give myself a polite clap on the back for notching a half century. Making it to 100? Well, that’s a whole other matter.

To celebrate reaching 50, I thought I’d supply what I am calling Hopefully The Grandest Ben Nevis Tasting You’ll Read On The Internet Today.

Recently I was able to pay a visit to Melbourne’s finest (that you can still visit in person) whisky outlet: Casa De Vinos, in South Melbourne. I know CDV for their generous pouring of complimentary samples (a worry for a customer who has driven to their store) and mind-blowing selection of premium whisky and rum. CDV specialise in indie bottlers who you may not have heard of or don’t get wide distribution elsewhere.

The problem with CDV – and why I don’t visit often – is once I start spending, I don’t know where to stop. Why grab this bottle and not those other three of similar price and provenance? CDV always seems to have a strong selection of Ben Nevis and – being a passionate fan of their products – I left with five bottles and a significantly impacted credit card.

No more wasting time; this article is going to run long enough as it is. This’ll be a selection of Ben Nevis I already had stashed away in my cabinet and my newer purchases from Casa De Vinos. I will keep my notes briefer than usual due to length.

Ben Nevis is a distillery which I feel has a rare 100% approval rating among the whisky community. Some may take rightful issue with owners Nikka siphoning off stock to include in products labelled as Japanese whisky, thus limiting any official bottlings. But the bottles that make it to market labelled as Ben Nevis? Both official and independents are consistently highly rated, and the renowned Fort Williams distillery is known for its “funk” (a game of Ben Nevis word association will quickly return the term “funk”).

For further reference, here are my reviews of a 27 year old cask strength Signatory Ben Nevis and a Thompson Bros 7 year old (I’m very happy to stand by both of those high scores). I still have about half of the Signatory in my cabinet, though the Thompson Bros is long gone.

Let’s start off with three official bottlings. First up is the 10 year old, in the old packaging. My remaining supplies of this release are rapidly dwindling, not helped by a father-in-law who took a very enthusiastic shine to it over Christmas 2022. When gone, I will try the newer edition, but until then, I still have a few pours left.

Ben Nevis 10 Year Old – Review

46% ABV.

Colour: Golden summer sunset.

On the nose: Just one of the finer noses for the money that I’ve ever known. Waxy and oily, dirty and, yeah, funky. Fried onions and pungent soil. Honey also eventually emerges.

In the mouth: Lovely balance and a thick coating in the mouth with tropical fruits like papaya, then peppermint tea. Fresh strawberries and onion jam. Grilled seafood and Asian cooking sauces.


A high benchmark to start. I only have maybe two or three more pours remaining from this bottle, and then it’ll be onto the new bottling for me. I’ve heard mixed reports; however, the sheer quality here makes me more curious, rather than less, to finally try that out.

Score: 7/10

John reviewed this next release here, so I will not say much else. It is an attempt to recreate the spirit produced at Ben Nevis in 1882, with peated malt (at 35 ppm) sourced from Port Ellen Maltings on Islay. Not that long ago this release carried a 10 year age statement, but supplies are tight at Nikka, the owners of Ben Nevis. I’d rather have the product as NAS than not at all. Widely available in Australia for about $120. A mix of majority sherry casks with some bourbon.

MacDonald’s Celebrated Traditional Ben Nevis – Review

46% ABV.

Colour: Lighter gold than the 10 year old, not much in it.

On the nose: Quite peaty, with expected smoke and ash. Cookie dough, smoked salmon and dill mustard sauce. Unexpected hints of dried fruits.

In the mouth: Far thinner in terms of texture than the 10 year old, but the peat hit is not to be trifled with. Dark chocolate is in the mix, smoked beef cheeks. A drop of water reveals oranges and faint pineapple.


This could stand toe to toe with many more renowned Islay bottlings. At the price, a serious consideration for a peat-head. I’ll go a point lower than John (and to be honest am closer to a 5 than a 7), as I don’t think it quite does enough beyond the peat, but what would the world be if we all agreed with each other? A dull place indeed.

Score: 6/10

Now onto the pièce de resistance of the official bottlings. This limited release has quite the reputation. Initially retailing for $200 in Australia, it now goes at auction for around twice that. I still have an unopened bottle, but it’ll only leave my house in a trash can after I finish it someday.

Ben Nevis 10 Year Old Cask Strength Batch One – Review

Bottled in 2018. 62.4% ABV. 8,000 bottles. A mix of first fill bourbon, sherry and wine casks

Colour: Warmer gold.

On the nose: Stir fry vegetables and sweet and sour sauce. Grilled prawns dominate after a minute or two. Hot tarmac. Oily peanut butter.

In the mouth: The problem is that I don’t want to make notes for this because I am having too much fun drinking it. Pancakes with syrup, then diesel fumes, peanut butter. A punchy IPA. Warm banana bread.


There never was a Batch Two. Nikka left us hanging from a branch with this one. A modern classic. I’ll resist a 9, but the temptation is there.

Score: 8/10

That’s the last of the official bottlings. There is a newer official release on the market, the Coire Leis, but Jon did a fine job of writing it up here and I don’t have a bottle to sample.

Onto the various indies. All of these were available from Casa De Vinos as of early July 2023, but some internet searching revealed various availability around the world for most bottles.
The Whisky of Mystery is also currently available from Nicks Wine Merchants in Australia and was the cheapest of the five indies at $140. The other four cost around $200.

2016 Signatory Vintage Whisky of Mystery 5 Year Old Ben Nevis – Review

Distilled in 2016, bottled in 2021. 46% ABV. Second fill sherry casks. Bottled for LMDW as a Black Friday release. European exclusive.

Colour: Flat beer.

On the nose: Not the peater I expected given the age. Baked apples and walnuts, pears, grapes. So certainly fruity. Chai tea.

In the mouth: Milky coffee, cookies and cream biscuits, butter chicken. Fruit naan bread. Wisps of smokiness and sweet chili sauce in the medium length finish. Cinnamon scrolls.


For 5 year old whisky, this is doing a bit more than expected. To be honest, the price of $140 is a little higher than you’d hope for 46% ABV, 5 year old whisky… but this is something of a boutique release. If it was in Claxton’s Exploration or Signatory’s Unchilfiltered Collection, I’d expect to see it about $20 cheaper. Perfectly drinkable, but perhaps too forgettable. I’m not necessarily deducting a point for price, but if it were $120, might I have been more charitable?

Score: 4/10

I visited the LMDW in Singapore in 2015 and walked away with 20 year old cask strength Clynelish for under $200, and at the time that felt pricy. Those were the days. This next bottle was released to celebrate their 15th anniversary. Lovely location in Robertson Quay and overall Singapore has a fantastic whisky scene.

2013 LMDW Singapore 15th Anniversary 8 Year Old Ben Nevis – Review

Distilled in 2013, bottled in 2021. Finished in a first fill sherry butt. Cask #15. 48% ABV. Supplied by Signatory Vintage.

Colour: Chestnut

On the nose: Shoe polish, and a sharp, acetone type aroma. Sharpie pens and emerging floral scents as the nose opens up. Maybe it’s the Ashes talking, but a freshly oiled Kookaburra (a cricket bat for anyone outside Commonwealth or ex-Commonwealth countries). Some classic sherry notes, but they don’t overwhelm. Distinctly clear that the sherry butt was a finish, rather than a full maturation.

In the mouth: Once again, I can only appreciate that this was a sherry finish, and possibly relatively short. I get stewed rhubarb, scones and jam, peaches, but what due to the lighter sherry touch, there is life beyond the same old: raisins, Christmas cake, prunes, such as Vegemite and maple syrup.


A miracle! Despite the dark colour and the youth suggesting a cloyingly sherried dram, I think this is excellent. It might lack a bit of depth and development to push it into the “all-timer” league. However, I could not imagine any whiskyphile disliking this bottle. It feels like an all-rounder to please any crowd.

Score: 7/10

These 5 indies have an average age of only 7 years. There is some older indie Ben Nevis available Down Under, but well beyond my price range I am afraid.
Casa De Vinos did have a substantial number of various bottlings from Nectar of the Daily Drams; this is the first I have owned.

2014 Nectar of the Daily Drams 7 Year Old Ben Nevis – Review

Distilled 2014, bottled in 2022. 60.3% ABV. A joint bottling with LMDW Collection Antipodes. Supplied from Signatory Vintage.
Colour: Late sunset.

On the nose: Lightly peated, with leathery notes. Rye bread, sandpaper, contrasting with sweeter notes of coconut and marshmallows. Earthy and dirty, grapevines and charred meats.

In the mouth: Definitely shows its ABV and its age. Rough and ready, harsh on the palate with scorching smoke. I retreat quickly and add water, and this softens up the palate but doesn’t bring much out other than some tobacco, candle wax, lemon juice, and burned caramel.


I know this is some people’s idea of fine Scotch whisky and matches up with their palates. I feel this was bottled too soon. Perhaps there is a parcel of casks gradually aging into middle aged glory, scattered to the four corners of the globe.

Score: 4/10

The stunning artwork on this next bottle is of the Ben Nevis distillery itself in Fort William. This was on the shelf in Casa De Vinos with a range of other bottles in the series and half the fun was guessing which distillery was which, some being easier than others (Bunnahabhain’s name is emblazoned on the building in the picture).

2011 Finest Whisky Berlin 9 Year Old Ben Nevis – Review

Distilled in 2011, bottled in 2021. 53.6% ABV. 352 bottles. Sherry Hogshead. Bottled by Sansibar.

Colour: Pale apple juice.

On the nose: Light and nutty, fairly woody. Nicely balanced but a vinegar note persists. Green apples. Wheat and heavy on cereal, barley tones.

In the mouth: Sweeter notes prevail, with honey and runny syrups. Mixed berries, jammy donuts. Reminiscent of a classy Glenrothes. Some caramel and brown sugar. A few contrasting notes in the form of pork crackling and pancetta.


Mostly interesting as an exemplar of the varietal shifts possible from the same distillery. Very capable on its own merits; however perhaps not a shining star. If not reviewed alongside others in this rogue’s gallery it may have rated higher. Placed in this broader tasting, the score averages out.

Score: 5/10

Finally, another from a series of bottlings with gorgeous artwork. For those interested, the back of the bottle tells us “to highlight the floral and spicy subtlety of this whisky, artist duo Grabuge chose a deep and textured trompe l’oeil.” So, there you have it. Refer any questions to Grabuge.

2014 Artist Collective by LMDW 6 Year Old Ben Nevis – Review

Bottled in 2021. 57.1% ABV. A vatting of 2 second fill sherry butts. Collective No. 5.1.

Colour: A classically golden whisky (I think I am out of interesting descriptors for the colour of whisky)

On the nose: Big hit of fruitcake and buttery raisin toast. Then leather and plum jam. Blueberries, some mixed spices and banana skin.

In the mouth: Very pleasant, very buttery and conjures up Christmas pudding. Notes of honey and some beef jerky. Brown sugar and iced coffee. The alcohol shows its youth with some burn on the palate that encourages me to add a drop of water. Final flavours of decadent bread and butter pudding.


I enjoyed this one rather a lot! A bounce back and a positive note to end on after a few rough ones. In the same league as the LMDW Singapore 15th anniversary bottling.

Score: 7/10

A truly up and down session. When whisky is this young, it is bound to be hit and miss despite the character of the Ben Nevis spirit. I am very aware that in article 49 I did scoff at paying $200 for bottles from the Springbank range, only to pay around that much for several very young Ben Nevis. But I also commented in that article that I was not a passionate fan of Springbank and I felt the prices were artificially inflated by the secondary market. I do love Ben Nevis and understand there will be a premium for boutique bottlings, as per the indies in this selection.

I sincerely hope this was Hopefully The Grandest Ben Nevis Tasting You’ll Read On The Internet Today. Competition is tight in the blog-o-sphere. With my luck, this will publish on the same day Serge at WhiskyFun drops a dozen reviews of Ben Nevis from the 1960’s.
A sincere thanks for reading and I will start to scour my brain for article 51; however, I am also cognizant that, after a recent flurry of reviewing, I have a substantial stash of bottles open with only one generous, review-sized pour out of them. Perhaps for now, I’ll try to take it easy and finish a few bottles strictly for pleasure.

All prices in Australian dollars

CategoriesSingle Malt
  1. Scott says:

    Lovely write up. You can never have enough Ben Nevis reviews. Apparently another new rebrand is on its way but in the meantime, get that “new” 10 opened, good old Ralfy panned it, but others really enjoyed it, so probably subject to batch variation. I love it. It’s a cult whisky/brand that could really grow into something special if only its owners treated it with more respect.

  2. Welsh Toro says:

    Ben Nevis really are an outsider. Even when folk know about and talk about then in the whisky-sphere they fly under the radar unless a sherry cask is involved. I’ve enjoyed the 10 and the wonderful 10 cask strength (1st Batch) and I have some comments about that on this site. I have in my possession a bottle of the now defunct Exclusive Malts Ben Nevis 20 year old refill sherry (242 bottles) cask strength. That’s interesting because indi Ben Nevis is nearly all young today. If I were to be really critical I would say the distillery was meant for blending but tastes have changed. The same is said of Caroni rum.

    1. Mark P says:

      Glad it sails under the radar if it indeed it does WT. More for me.
      Exclusive Malts are sadly missed in my household. Great prices and outstanding range

  3. Graham says:

    Mark, congratulations on article 50 and thank you for your service to Malt. I absolutely love a hefty vertical tasting so this was enjoyable. Good to get under the skin of some distillate. So much more young Ben Nevis about!

    Cheers to the next 50

    1. Mark P says:

      Ha ha we’ll see on the next 50. I’ll literally be 50 when such a milestone is ever achieved.
      I think Ben Nevis must sell, hence the younger bottlings. There is definitely older stuff available down here but most of it goes for around $400-$500 of our Australian dollars.
      Cracking Loch Lomond read by the way. That took me on a journey.

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