Origin: Highlands (Scozia)
Typology: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon
Added coloring: No
Average price: € 80.00
Official website: www.bennevisdistillery.com
It’s quite common to come across independent editions of Ben Nevis, one of the most iconic distilleries in the Highlands, less so to find an original bottling that isn’t the classic 10yo: you can’t say they go to great lengths to leave their mark on whisky catalogues.
In fact, Japanese ownership doesn’t seem very keen on investing in the brand, to the point of not even highlighting the redesign that took place in mid-2021, or the launch of a new bottling, which others would have trumpeted all over the place.
It has to be said that even the new labels are understated, with a style so minimal (the polite way of saying ‘banal’) as to suggest that there’s a lack of will to push one of the most popular malts among enthusiasts.
Released in July 2021, Coire Leis is named after the lake that creates the water source used by the distillery. Aged for an unspecified time (between eight and ten years, it is rumoured) in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks, it’s presented as the distillery’s entry level, just to distinguish it from the other single bottling in the core portfolio.
Definitely young, the nose is marked above all by malt and impressions of bread dough, with a consistent sour trait of lime and grapefruit. With time it reveals a softer character, bringing out vanilla, honey, pear (unripe, heaven forbid you overdo it with sweetness), butter biscuits, all however always tinged with vegetable notes and a slight alcoholic exuberance. It becomes decidedly smoother in the glass, remaining however rather bare.
The alcohol becomes very present on the palate, decidedly important despite the less than powerful alcohol content, with a burst of black pepper that still carries hints of fresh bread and citrus fruits, like a lemon plum cake. Oily at the mouth but dry in length, it evokes impressions between vegetable and floral, suspended between bitter and sweet, with the appearance of fennel intertwined with vanilla and honey, pear, apricot yoghurt, rhubarb and a mineral touch. Toasted wood in the background.
Medium-long finish, very mineral and vegetal, turning decidedly bitter with few concessions to sweetness.
Very Ben Nevis but also very unripe, it ticks (almost) all the distillery’s aromatic boxes but without much conviction, offering little reason to prefer it to the ten year old which, for a few euros more, offers a far different experience. And anyway, at a truly embarrassing price considering the far superior choice of even younger single casks on the market.