Taste Review #6 – Blair Athol 12 y.o (F&F)

The dram with a misleading location.

The title of the blog may be slightly misleading as well. F&F stands for Flora and Fauna, a nickname given to a range of whiskies owned by United Distillers (later Diageo) in the early 1990’s by the late whisky writer Michael Jackson. It definitely does not stand for cheap supermarket fashion from Tesco, a joke maybe only relevant to my UK based readers.

Blair Athol Flora And Fauna

I’ll write a blog eventually about Flora and Fauna bottlings, but essentially the range had a picture of a plant or wildlife local to that distillery. There were 26 different distilleries in this portfolio, although only 11 are still available to buy. Even then, some are getting harder to source.

In the early 90’s, most distilleries were still being used to produce whisky for blends and the Flora and Fauna range gave a chance for consumers to try produce from a distillery they would otherwise not get as a single malt. In the case of Blair Athol, for years it has been making whisky to go into Bells blended whisky. There has been an 8 y.o release, but since Diageo took over, the 12 y.o Flora and Fauna being its only regular official release.

Blair Athol distillery has one big surprise with those not familiar with this malt; it’s not in Blair Athol, but seven miles down the A9 road in the village of Pitlochry. This village had a distillery since 1798, but was originally called Aldour. Perhaps the name change was to sweeten the local landowner, the Duke of Athol. Nestled in Highland Perthshire, this is classified as a Highland whisky.

The Blair Athol distillery has a visitor centre that was opened in 1987.

Although I own a couple of these full sized bottles, this taste test was created by the purchase of a 3cl miniature from The Whisky Exchange.

The poured dram

Age

Blair Athol Flora and Fauna has an age statement of 12 years old.

Strength

43% a.b.v

Colour

Mid to dark Gold

Nose

Sweet white wine. Oak. Toffee, sweet notes, perhaps a bit biscuity. More toffee notes once water added.

Palate

Gingerbread, nutty, dried fruits. Sweet sherry taste there as well, held a wee bit better with a drop of water.

Finish

Short to medium. Spicy oak and nuts. A bit dry to start with, though ends with a wee burst of sweetness. 5 minutes after first sip, had no residual taste at all in my mouth. Sweet part of finish lessened with water, but spicy oak flavour intensified.

The 3cl sample

Conclusion

Quite a pleasant dram. There is colour added and it is chill filtered. Nothing that would set the world on fire, but I found the short finish quite refreshing. This could be an ideal malt to give to someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with single malt and wants to try some. There are no strong elements that would be off-putting.

This malt is available from Amazon, Master Of Malt or The Whisky Exchange. It costs about £48.

Slainte Mhath!