WhiskySponge just released a Ben Nevis triptych. He took one Ben Nevis 1996 (A – refill hogshead) and one Ben Nevis 1997 (C – refill sherry hogshead), both slightly diluted and bottled at 55%.
There’s also bottle B, the resulting multi-vintage marriage of equal parts of A and C, deliberately brought back to 48.5% for perfect drinkability. Great idea, now let’s bring our vitamins up to standard with some liquid fruits…
Ben Nevis 23 yo ‘Triptych B’ (48,5%, WhiskySponge 2021, refill hogshead + refill sherry hogshead, 162 btl.)
Nose: pretty great, as it brings a great tropical fruitiness to the table. Kiwi, pineapple and guava. A few greener, grassy touches with dried flowers, as well as a warm waxy note. After a while it leans more towards oily hints and paraffin, with the fruits fading away.
Mouth: banana, mango and orange, mixed with waxy notes, honey and light spice. Mint and a little white pepper. Then back to chalk, greener herbal notes and traces of leather. All of the nice things of these 1996 Ben Nevis, in a very drinkable mix.
Finish: good length, still fruity, alongside waxy notes and some gentle medicinal herbs.
This is quite complex if you start investigating, but it’s also a great mix of fruity and chalky notes that’s easy to drink and easy to enjoy. All three are sold out from Decadent Drinks but you can soon expect them from The Whisky Exchange as well. That’s it though, no other retailers this time.
Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996 ‘Triptych A’ (55,0%, WhiskySponge 2021, refill hogshead, 153 btl.)
Nose: more paraffin and Barbour grease up front – far less tropical, and far less fruity to start with. More mineral notes, some more acidic orange and grapefruit, as well as plenty of sunflower / olive oil and whiffs of moisturizing creams. A bit of minty / pine freshness as well.
Mouth: sweet and fruity now, much more than I expected after the nose. More on oranges, peaches, guava. It’s a luscious, creamy style with a wee liqueur-like touch, but nicely balanced by greener leafy notes, always this chalky note, a little paraffin and light spice.
Finish: rather long, with more paraffin, citrus, herbs and slightly sappy oak spice.
I found this to be less impressive on the nose, but on the palate it really bursts open into this Irish style fruitiness. Bright and seductive.
Ben Nevis 23 yo 1997 ‘Triptych C’ (55,0%, WhiskySponge 2021, refill sherry hogshead, 203 btl.)
Nose: dry cereals to the fore, with some buttery notes and hints of custard. Then putty, wet chalk, a drop of Manzanilla and ripe apples. Vanilla is more noticeable than in the previous bottles. At this point I was wondering where B got all those fruits from, but after a while this one picks up plenty of fruity notes, showing mango and papaya like I found in the marriage.
Mouth: now this one gets a little more mineral than expected. Oh boy, all the efforts to pinpoint each bottle as ‘the mineral one’ or ‘the fruity one’ are doomed, they’re all a great mix. Grapefruit and orange, chalk and just a wee hint of tobacco leaves. It becomes greener towards the end, with a few floral accents too.
Finish: long, quite zesty and green, with a light earthy touch.
It’s really hard to pick a favourite but this one seemed slightly greener and failed to express this lovely tropical fruitiness on the palate. Still a great drop, certainly.