Ben Nevis 2015 5 Years (Adelphi)
Ben Nevis has had a cult status for a long time, but I think it is fair to say that status reached a new level in the last year or two. Despite owner Nikka siphoning off most of the distillery’s whisky for their own blends and neglecting to build a presumably very profitable brand, the love for Ben Nevis has only grown. Understandable then, that Whisky Import Nederland bottled a 5-year-old Ben Nevis from 2015 for their 15th anniversary.
The current reputation of Ben Nevis is partly the result of the excellent official 10-year-old, which sadly is barely available anymore. The slew of good to great Ben Nevis from 1996 released by many indies—some of which are sure to be future classics—have done plenty of good too for the standing of this distillery in Fort William. There’ve also been a number of younger, heavily peated Ben Nevis, which have been surprisingly tasty.
While I suspect the people over at Whisky Import Nederland would’ve loved to get their hand on a mid-90s Ben Nevis, these are becoming rare and pretty damn expensive. So I could see why they’d opt for a Ben Nevis 2015 5 Years from the stocks of Adelphi, for which they are the Dutch importer. As you can see, it matured in a very active first-fill Oloroso sherry cask. It sold quickly when it was released last month.
Ben Nevis 2015 5 Years (58.9%, Adelphi, C#10715)
Nose: Not peated? That’s a surprise! Many of these young Ben Nevis are, so I just figured, you know. It’s very much a modern sherry-matured whisky. Red fruits, caramel, furniture polish and cherry candy cane with a tinge of black pepper. Not overly complex.
Taste: Intense and quite a spicy arrival. Plenty of cloves and some chili heat that’s quite dominant. It’s only after a while that I pick up on sweeter notes such as cherry syrup and dates. Adding water doesn’t do much except for bringing out a faint chocolate note.
Finish: Lingering spices, oak and some shy red fruits.
It’s of stock everywhere, so there’s no need for consumer advice really. But then again, I’m not quite sure why this rates so high on Whiskybase. It’s fairly one-dimensional and doesn’t display any of the characteristics that I associate with Ben Nevis. The spicy, spirity palate doesn’t make this a particular accessible whisky either. I know the colour probably makes some of you drool, but to me this whisky doesn’t quite deliver.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.