Nose: When this hit TWE's site, I was initially disappointed reading the tasting notes they provided. They made it sound as if the cask was doing most of the talking and had essentially transformed one of Scotland's most characterful distillates into a typical, even if good, sherry monster: dried fruits predominating, leather, and a bit of earthiness. Then I saw Serge and Ruben's respective notes, and I cheered up. Of the three, I probably get the most out of Serge's: it's big on oranges. There's also some great chocolate there as well as a varnish-type note. But it's that lovely Ben Nevis citrus (lemons in other bottlings, like the OB 10 yo) that really shines against the more rustic background. Terrific nose, and not at all a typical "big sherry" profile, although after a bit in the glass I do start to pick up on some sour cherry. Seems to take water fairly well, and brings out more of the spicy notes.
Mouth: The extra age improves the spirit vis-a-vis younger incarnations (again, thinking of the OB 10 yo). The mouthfeel is good in the younger bottlings, and that's still the case here. It's the depth of flavor that stands out here. I continue to get the oranges and chocolate combination. Water here emphasizes the chocolate even more.
Finish: It's a pretty big one, with lingering spice and milk chocolate.
Comments: Needless to say, I'm a fan. Based on the impressive number of indies that have bottled '96 Ben Nevis in the past couple years, and their near uniform acclaim, I have been seeking out a good, representative example for a while now. As noted above, when TWE's Whisky Show bottling dropped online, I was initially disappointed, because it seemed as if this was not going to be a great representative and other, new '96 bottlings were starting to become difficult to purchase. Well, I'm quite happy with this one. Very glad I could snag one. Hopefully, I can try an ex-bourbon (preferable refill wood) mid-90s Ben Nevis in the near future for comparison's sake.