Archives is het label under which the owners of Whiskybase bottle and in 2018 and 2019 they bottled two hogsheads of Ben Nevis 1996. Hogshead #521 got a reptile on the label and was shipped to Shinanoya in Japan, hogshead #1862 got a fish and remained in Europe. I am happy to be able to put them head-to-head, starting with the 22 years old for Japan. It is fairly light in color and the ABV is significantly lower than that of its sibling.
The nose is very delicate and needs quite a bit of time to reveal itself. But make no mistake: it’s delicious! Lots of tropical fruit (apricots and banana), vanilla and beeswax. A touch candy-like. All the way in the back there is a slight metallic note, but it does not bother.
Silky soft on the palate, even a bit docile upon arrival. But the tropical notes are soon joined by a lovely spicy pepper and some candied ginger. Liquorice and a bittersweet note as if from a grape pith kick in. The spiciness increases, without becoming piquant. The tropical fruit, together with some late honey, make for ample juiciness.
The finish is very long and evolves towards Dutch licorice (aniseed).
Grand Ben Nevis again. Good on you, Japanese whisky aficionados. And what do you say? Arigato!