Ben Nevis and Ben Nevis grain whisky


Ben Nevis distillery is situated in Fort William at the foot of Scotland's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, from which the distillery takes its name.

It was founded in 1825 by John McDonald and taken over by Ben Nevis Distillery Co. Ltd in 1955.

It was re-purchased by Long John Distillers in 1981 but sadly they closed it in 1986.

Japanese distillery Nikka bought it in 1989 and reopened the distillery in 1991, since which it has remained operational.


Photo by Jousset, via Wikimedia Creative Commons License


 More great distillery info here, thanks to Malt Madness



  Ben Nevis (single malts)   General whisky characteristics: Aromatic and fruity, but also full-bodied  

Ben Nevis, 25y, Dec. 1984 - Jan. 2010, 56% ABV

Single Cask No. 98/35/1

Original cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Walnut

Nose: That little nose burn tells me lots of alcohol (it is 56% abv). After some minutes my nose has acclimitised and the first delight is nicely waxed antique oak, followed by leather then prunes and plums sitting in a gentle orange marinade.

Palate: Smooth and warming as the marinated fruit gently spreads across the palate leaving the leather and wood lingering in the aftertaste.

With 3 drops of water; The wood gives way to the fruit on the nose whilst the palate comes alive with a spicy, waxy mixture of wood, leather and those orange-marinated fruits.

Finish; very long, smooth and deep.

Overall impression: A truly delightful whisky with a great depth of flavour befitting its 25y wait.



Ben Nevis, 41y, April 1967 - Jan. 2009, 49.4% ABV

Exclusive edition for Alambic Classique, Sherry Hogshead 1281

Original cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Dram-atics live review


Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Very dark, mahogany

Nose: Well roasted chestnuts marinated in aged amaretto. Something a little vegetal and rather pleasant develops.

Palate: Dr
y with massive herbs, but the nuts of the nose never quite appear on the palate. This is very herbal.

Finish; Long and dry with something really quite 'aged'.

Overall impression: A good whisky, perhaps very good, but very herbal and in many ways akin to an aged rum. Is it perhaps over-aged?





Ben Nevis, 40y, Single Blend, 40% ABV

Distilled 1962, bottled 2002

"Blended at Birth"

Original cost of this bottle; Unknown


Glass; Classic Malt

Colour; Pale yellow

Nose: Initial suggestion of grasses & hay developing into a musty, bitter fruity smokiness. Also a suggestion of meatiness, perhaps roast pork?

Palate: Dr
y with a slightly watery mouth-feel. It's all quite mild, even slightly perfumed or floral but not as characterful as the nose.

Finish; Short to medium.

Overall impression: Excellent nose but subdued palate.




  Independent Bottlers    


Murray McDavid Ben Nevis, 6y, 46% ABV

Bourbon and Port casks

Original cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Colour: Pale yellow and it even looks a little oily

Nose: Strange, slightly insipid. I said it looked slightly oily, the nose now has an oily wine tinge in the background.

Palate: Not at all oily, quite smooth with a weak fruity wine flavour which diminishes pretty quickly. The tingle stays far longer than the primary flavours.

Overall impression: For some unknown (to me) reason, maybe due to its youth at 6 years old, I expected quite a lot from this whisky but I am initially quite disappointed. I expected more ....... oooomph more flavour, and perhaps more wine influence. But no, I get a weak wine flavour which rapidly runs away to hide, as if this is a rather shy dram, wanting to hide its true potential. Strangely, after three or four tastes, the wine flavour is building a little on my palate, even becoming quite sweet. But this one you have to entice out. You have to persevere to get any of that hidden potential. Is it worth that effort and time ...... only YOU can decide that when you try it.



Wemyss, Ben Nevis sherry cask, 1990, 46%

Labelled as 'Chocolate plums'

Original cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Glass: Spiegelau

Colour: Slight copper / bronze

Nose: A definite sherry cask from the nose; the plums are indeed climbing the sides of the glass into the nostrils, but so is a combination of malt, old oak and a little marzipan (but just a touch).

Palate: This glides smoothly over the palate, warming with a slight sensation of dark chocolate, but for me there is also a hint of raspberry just as the aftertaste kicks in. This soon fades, but returns to linger quite long on the palate.

Just 2 drops of water: The nose is weakened slightly as the plums are not so rich now. The dark chocolate still dominates on the palate, but with added tingle so I wonder if this could even be chili-chocolate.

Overall Impression: I do like this whisky, it has a good feel on the palate as well as being what I would call solid and interesting.



Cooper's Choice, Ben Nevis, 12y, 1996, 46%

Sherry Cask

Original cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich oak

Nose: Pungent with baby vomit, oak and even a hint of weak red wine. It improves after some minutes in the glass as more wood appears and the baby vomit seems to have been cleaned up with antiseptic cream. Eventually hints of sandalwood develop.

Palate: Altogether light and faint with sandalwood and something reminding me of red cherries and apple, but not quite.

: Medium to long

Overall Impression: Indistinctive and eminently forgettable, unless you count baby vomit being cleaned up by antiseptic cream(?)



Whisky Fδssle, Ben Nevis, 1997-2008, 56.2%

Bourbon Cask

Original cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Extremely pale

Nose: Very lightly perfumed hay or grasses with a suggestion of oak, but all very light and fading quickly.

Palate: Very smooth and creamy mouth-feel with a light fruitiness and vanilla, maybe even a suggestion of popcorn.

: Long

Overall Impression: Interesting, quite aromatic and light but fading quickly.




  Ben Nevis (single grain)  



James McArthur, Ben Nevis, single grain, 27y, 54%

Bottled Feb. 1991 for Mini Bottle Club (UK),

Part of a set of 6 bottles, 180 sets bottled.

Original cost of this bottle; €€€€€ This is a mini bought in 2021 for €26.

  Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark golden, brass-like

Nose: Initially very rich and nose-burning with the aroma of musty butterscotch and milky toffee. I get the sense this needs time and probably water too, but more of that when I come to the palate. With more time in the glass I get more suggestion of toffee as the butterscotch fades a little. In fact I'm now thinking toffee apple as it turns to exhibit a mildly toasted character.

Palate: Yes, lots of butterscotch & toffee character but at the same time it has a peppery mouth-burn suggesting I should add water. This is big, mouth-coating and very mouth-filling.

7 Drops of water: I have about 3cl in the glass now so 7 drops are quite a lot to add but they do indeed calm the whisky somewhat. The nose has much less burn and although the hints of butterscotch & toffee are still present the 'toasted' effect is increased. The palate now has considerably less peppery burn and much more depth of character.

5 More drops of water: Both the nose and palate are now totally subdued and much more gentle with no burn at all. Was this a step too far?

: Originally medium length but surprisingly longer, much longer with the addition of water.

Overall Impression: This whisky needs lots of time, patience and water and will reward well if granted them. It may not be the most complex whisky but it is a truly delightful one, even more so with the addition of water.

I've been looking for a Ben Nevis single grain for years, ever since I discovered they used to produce it but until recently I never managed to source one and oh my, am I now glad I did succeed.






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