The dram of split personality

Taste Review # 27 – Glengoyne 10

the distillery – glengoyne.com

This is the last in the trilogy of distilleries that were in the film “The Angels Share”, the other two I’ve previously reviewed being Deanston and Balblair. This is a pretty distillery , dissected by the A81 between Glasgow and Aberfoyle. Underneath the road, the Highland fault line runs, which means that the stills are in the Highland Region, but the warehouses are in the Lowland region. As the stills are in the Highland region, that is the classification it receives. Potentially a dual personality.

from the air – Apple maps

Glengoyne started producing whisky in 1833, and is now owned by Ian Macleod Distillers, whose other distillery is Tamdhu on Speyside.

The still house holds 3 stills, 1 Wash and 2 spirit stills, along with 8 warehouses. Behind the warehouses, the long distance trail, the West Highland way goes past on the course of an old railway line. The distillery would be an excellent place for walkers to take a diversion, as there is a visitor centre on site.

the bottle

Region

Highland

Age

This Glengoyne is 10 years old

Strength

40% a.b.v

Colour

Golden Yellow

Nose

Mmmm. Quite sweet. Vanilla fudge, floral notes, apples

Palate

Light, herbal, Apples, oak, barley, liquorice. Bit of a spirit kick. Water gave a nuttier taste.

Finish

Short, sweet, malty dryness.

the dram

Conclusion

The 10 year old of this distillery is the youngest expression released, and I have to say, for me I found this a bit rough. I don’t know why people rave about this malt, but I am suspecting I need to go for something a bit older. There didn’t seem to be a great depth to this dram, and the complexity was, to my taste, limited.

I might be being a bit harsh, as there wasn’t anything that bad about it, but neat, even though it was 40%, it was ragged round the edges, and I felt I had to add water – something I don’t automatically do for many whiskies. However, I think I would be tempted to try the older expressions.

At around £33 for a full sized bottle, it isn’t too expensive if you want to take a punt. I’ll pass on this one, and see if it is the older expressions that garner the praise.

Slainte Mhath!


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Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.


Photos credited on image / authors own.

A Beatle Free Submarine

The story of the other Yellow Submarine

This is a small story on why I have picked my current cover photo on my Scotty’s Drams Facebook page.

Yellow Submarine WMD II (whiskyauctioneer.com)

The series of whisky known as WMD that The Yellow Submarine is part of, started due to the USA spying on Bruichladdich distillery around the time of the Iraq War and the investigation into Weapons of Mass Destruction. This provoked a clever marketing strategy and a bottling of a 19 year old spirit, only this time WMD stood for Whisky of Mass Distinction.

WMD #1 Big Brother is watching

It is quite appropriate to use the WMD tag, as after a good session, I do feel as though my brain had been subjected to chemical warfare.

WMD II came about after another interesting story. It’s better to read it straight from the horses mouth.

Click here for the full story of the yellow submarine

These remotely controlled submersibles (ROV’s) were used by the Royal Navy to plant explosive charges beside mines as a way of neutralising them. One of my work colleagues worked on them in the Navy, and my day job is working on larger and more capable ROV variants in the Oil and Gas industry to build oilfields. Quite a few followers of my FB page are also in the same branch of the oil industry as me.

Why one different?

the devil is in the detail

If you look closely at the tins, you may notice only one has an official tin, the others have no yellow submarine on, and the edition label is from a hand held labeller. This is because they were from the first batch. I never noticed this when I bought them at auction, as they were bought as drinkers. It goes to show to pay attention as these would be the ones worth more in the future.

It is part of the legend that when the submarine was first found, the MD of Bruichladdich, Mark Reynier, took the opportunity to possibly name a future whisky as WMD II – the Yellow Submarine. He had some labels hastily designed and printed, then stored away. So hastily, that the word whisky is missing from the label, which is a legal requirement. Some months later, when the Royal Navy did turn up to collect their equipment, Reynier is supposed to have grabbed a few bottles of an unnamed spirit, slapped on the labels, and Dymo printed the tins, and took a load down to HMS Blyth when it called to Islay so it could collect the errant submarine.

It is hard to say how many 1st run were labelled this way. As far as I know there were three batches of 4000 bottles – in total 12000 WMD II were produced with much of the final run reported to going to the Submarine manufacturer. I’d imagine most have been drunk.

In 2018, there was a 25 year old release of the last barrels, which had lain to one side in the warehouses and forgotten about. Only 1991 bottles of this spirit were produced and titled WMD III – The Legend Resurfaces. In the current Bruichladdich style, they are opaque, but bright yellow.

Hangover ahoy! (remy-cointreau.com)

Current prices

WMD I – 19 year old £400 – £700 (440 bottles)

WMD II – 14 year old £175- £400 (12000 bottles)

WMD III – 25 year old £330 – £600 (1991 bottles)

Submarine being sunk. Going down!

It is a special dram, and having only tried the WMD II, I can tell you that it’s a very smooth, unpeated Bruicladdich, worth every penny. I’ll do a taste review of this dram eventually, but thought for now followers of my FB page may be interested about the tale of the Yellow Submarine.

Unlike the Beatles, this is a whisky that is definitely not over rated.

Slainte Mhath!


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photo credits

Credits given in photo title, others authors own

All photos used under fair use policy.

From a low to a high

Taste Review #26 – Ben Nevis 10

After the low of last week’s review (Jura Journey) I thought it best to get it back on track again. Let’s just forget last week’s review ever happened.

So, with our memory cleared, let’s begin again.

The distillery with Ben Nevis behind

From the highest mountain in Speyside to the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis puts Benrinnes in the shade. Literally, if placed side to side. Both hills give their name to a malt of the same name, and both fly under the radar so to speak, but due to the fact it has a visitor centre and is in a main tourist centre, Ben Nevis is probably the better known.

Situated just to the north of Fort William, I’d visited with my wife about 4 years ago. The distillery at the time had a shortage of some of its own produce, possibly due to stock mismanagement or their Japanese masters being a wee bit tight with the purse strings. Even now, some Ben Nevis stock is hard to get.

Fort William is a major tourist hub of the Lochaber region of Scotland, at the southern end of the Great Glen, which links Fort William with Inverness via Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness. Thanks to the Caledonian Canal, you can sail from Inverness to Fort William through some fairly stunning scenery.

Geek Fact

Although not the largest area of of water in the UK (that’s Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland) nor the deepest (Loch Morar), it does have the largest volume of fresh water in the UK. Loch Ness holds more water than the combined volumes of lakes in England and Wales. Plus it has a monster.

The best part of the Ben Nevis distillery tour is the short video at the start. A work of pure fiction that is so cringeworthy and based in the 1980’s is the character ‘Hector McDram’ a giant who is supposed to have made Ben Nevis and surrounding mountains by hand. While stopping for a break, he brewed some of the local spring water and this is what gave us Ben Nevis whisky. Somewhat fanciful, and the distorted VHS style playback added to the nonsense factor. Worth seeing for the comedic value alone.

Hector McDram. High comedic value.

Fort William is the starting point for the Jacobite steam train to Mallaig, a must for Harry Potter fans, as it passes over the Glenfinnan viaduct. Perhaps the distillery has missed a trick, and should say it’s the whisky that powers Harry’s Ford Anglia over the viaduct and not magic. More believable than old Hector…..

“I need some water for my nip!”

On to the whisky

the sample

Region

Highland

Age

10 years old

Strength

46% a.b.v

Colour

Deep Gold

Nose

Surprised it was so pleasant. Deep, rich, with a very slight hint of smoke, roasted nuts, toffee, peaches.

Palate

A bit of an alcoholic fizz in the arrival, almost like its carbonated. Honey, Oak, dried fruits, warmed spices. A wee bit of water works wonders.

Finish

Long, spicy with hints of fruit. Quite smooth after the arrival on the palate. Drying.

the dram

Conclusion

This is a dram that is good, but requires a small bit of water to even it out. It maybe suffers having the addition of colour, and although it’s 46%, I can’t be sure it isn’t chill filtered. The palate also had tannic notes, which did hint at an Oak influence.

It isn’t a particularly cheap 10 year old. But it is harder to get. Recent rumours is that they have temporarily run out of stock to make the 10 year old, but this is not a discontinued dram, albeit harder to pick up. This will see prices rise with a restricted supply.

Prices online are between £45 – £50, but try your local friendly whisky emporium.

Would I buy it? Maybe. It’s 46% so ticks a lot of boxes, but I didn’t really engage with it. As I only had a small sample, perhaps 2 drams aren’t enough to form a close enough relationship with the spirit. However, if I saw it on offer at a decent price, I would definitely buy.

Slainte Mhath!


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or by liking sharing this article by clicking on icons below.

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Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.


photo credits

Distillery – scottishfield.com

Hector McDram – bennevisdistillery.com

Nessie – VisitScotland.com

Harry Potter – Shot on location

All images used under fair use policy. All other images authors own.

From Buckie To Bowmore

Visit Report – Bon Accord Bar, Glasgow.

(And we aren’t talking about the fishing port in North East Scotland!)

A recent trip to Glasgow left a massive disappointment. Two whisky shops and yet no whisky purchased, bringing the total number of consecutive whisky shops visited with no purchase of spirit to 4.

The Bon Accord Bar

Feeling less than manly*, I decided to pay a visit to the Bon Accord, on North Street in Glasgow. This is where the disappointment came to an end. I’ve a great mental image to describe what walking into the Bon Accord is like. Readers of a certain vintage will get this immediately, but not too many decades ago, you could go into a grocers shop with the big shelves behind a large counter, and there on the shelves would be big jars of sweeties** to be put into a quarter pound bag (or bigger if you had more pocket money). Well, the gantry in the Bon Accord reminded me of this. I was metaphorically that kid in a sweetie shop.

The bar and gantry

Where to begin? Let’s start by saying there were so many whiskies on the gantry, bottles two deep on the shelves, it would be impossible to ask for something. They have a whisky menu, but impressively, it is displayed on an Apple iPad app. If you want to browse their collection before you even get to the bar, even from the comfort of your own home, you can plan what dram you fancy, or even plan a flight so you know what sort of budget you are aiming for.

The whisky menu via app

I only popped in for one dram and ended up staying for 2, but also had a lunch special of soup plus roast beef in a Yorkshire pudding, which was £6 for the two courses. The two cost nearly 10 times that amount at £27 and £28 respectively.

The whiskies I chose were a 23 year old Kininvie (batch 3) and SMWS 41.101, which is a Dailuaine 28 year old. That was a fantastic dram, and I have done a separate taste review on each one.

Although these were expensive drinks, don’t panic. There are normally priced whiskies that may still be unusual to find in the average bar. Or, there are more expensive ones should you want to brandish your wallet about with masses of disposable income. The most expensive was the 72 year old Macallan at £5000 a nip, followed closely by the 70 year old Glenlivet at £900. Even a Macallan Easter Elchies Black 2018 was £100 a nip.

The staff showing off the premium bottles

The other thing that was great was the staff. Very friendly and knowledgable about whisky. And, unsurprisingly in Glasgow, full of friendly patter. Somebody in the staff has a wonderful sense of humour as I had spotted a bottle of Buckfast on the top level of the gantry beside boxes for White Bowmore, Black Bowmore and Black Bowmore 1964.

Goes to show the Bon Accord is for everybody with all budgets.

Spot the odd one out.

The Bon Accord is at 153 North Street, Glasgow within the Charing Cross area of the city. You can find their app on the Apple App Store by searching for Bon Accord. They also have a website at www.bonaccordpub.com

*there was no need to feel like this. I’d just picked up auction winnings from SWA. A drinking bottle of Glenmorangie Signet nonetheless.

**sweeties are called candies in the US.

Slainte Mhath!


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or by liking and sharing this article by clicking on icons below.

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Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.


photo credits

Whisky App – Bon Accord Bar / Fair Use

other photos – authors own.

A road best less travelled

Taste Review 25 – Jura Journey

This review has been a long time coming. Indeed, it was one I wanted to do right at the start of my ‘Journey’ (pun intended) with Scotty’s Drams, but felt entirely uncomfortable with it, as I knew what I wanted to say, but didn’t know exactly how to say it. To be honest, it’s been a long and arduous challenge for my mind to come up with what I present to you today.

the distillery

I hope you appreciate my words, and digest them carefully, as this has been the easiest, yet hardest review to write so far. You’ll soon see why.

Let’s get down to business. The island of Jura sits just to the north of that famous whisky isle / region of Islay. You can reach Jura by ferry from Islay, not too far away from Caol Ila distillery at Port Askaig. The main feature of Jura is a small collection of hills known as the ‘Paps of Jura’ on account of their shape. Pap is a Scottish slang term relating to a part of the female anatomy. The ferry journey is very short, so those of you who don’t have sea legs needn’t worry. There is only one distillery on Jura, and it is in the small village of Craighouse, on the east coast of the island.

the dram

Region

Highland

Age

Jura Journey is non-age statement

Strength

40% a.b.v

Colour

Amber Gold

Nose

Honey, barley sugar, slight smoke, black currants

Palate

Soft arrival, watery, no real mouthfeel. Vanilla fudge, a wee bit of smoke. Disappointment abounds.

Finish

Short but sort of lingers. It ends in black currants in the end. Like Ribena, which is a soft drink in the UK. Something it has in common with Jura Journey, which can almost be classified as a soft drink.

my 35CL bottle

Conclusion

Winston Churchill once said “Diplomacy is the ability to tell a person to go to hell in such a way that they will be looking forward to the journey”.

This isn’t a Journey to look forward to. I’ve tried to be diplomatic about this dram, but my keyboard kept defaulting to ‘rant’ setting, and therefore I have abandoned diplomacy. This is dram you may well struggle to enjoy.

If you are thinking of going for a ‘Journey’ of discovery with this whisky, abort the trip and pour yourself some Laphroaig. You’ll thank me for it. This Jura isn’t so much of a journey but the road to hell.

This whisky is the reason why I decided to keep Scotty’s Drams independent, and wouldn’t have to modify my reviews on account of being in somebody’s pocket. I don’t rely on being provided samples, all are bought with one or two gifts on the way.

This whisky was a present, but when it was opened, me and the gift giver decided the same thing – it was so insipid that it was as though we weren’t drinking a dram at all, or it had been flooded with water even though both of us had it neat. After a nip each, it was put away, but I thought I’d give it time to see if it improved in my mind. We soon moved on to better stuff.

Coming back to it a couple of years later (yeah, I know!!!) my view of it hasn’t changed. It is terrible. There is no real character to it at all, which given the big guns behind this is a big surprise. Perhaps Richard Patterson had his day off when that recipe was concocted, and upon his return made the trainee stick to it, so he could learn from the poor reviews when you make a dud dram. You’d learn quickly.

Jura has made some lovely whisky in its time, the 10 year old is a decent (but not great) dram, but I’m wary of NAS Jura, and this has confirmed my prejudice. I’d wouldn’t even use this for cleaning drains due to its lack of strength. It’s a training whisky at best, only so you know what disappointment is like. I may use it as a cooking whisky, or for visitors I don’t like.

There are two good things about it, the first being that if you are given it, you’ll know one of 5 things about your friend

⁃ They know nothing about whisky

⁃ They are on a budget

⁃ They have no sense of smell or taste

⁃ They don’t really like you

⁃ Possibly a combination of the above.

The second good thing? I lied. I couldn’t find another good thing.

It’s not even that cheap, it gives an experience of a lower price point than it actually is. On a technical note, this seems to be really young whisky, which with a lack of cask influence is not showing the distillery character in a good light, which is a shame. There are good Jura Drams out there. Just not this one.

If you don’t believe me, research on the internet, YouTube (other websites are available) is the best one to see what other whiskyphiles think of it. That is the other reason I waited so long to review.

it’s about the same thing – really

To be honest, had I paid for this, I would have felt violated. I enjoyed the Haig Clubman a lot more, and it’s cheaper. Jura Journey can be bought online for around £30 or £35 at Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s at the time of writing, but if you want my honest opinion, this is over priced. Tesco’s are selling the 35CL bottles at £12 on offer at the moment. That’s the price I would pay just as a cheap way of trying a poor whisky without breaking the bank.

Whatever you do, don’t ask for this at a specialist whisky shop. You’ll be correctly identified as a moron.

I’m away to rinse my mouth with Famous Grouse. At least that has flavour of some sort and is also cheaper than Jura Journey.

Slainte Mhath!


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or liking sharing this article by clicking on icons below.

If you prefer not to use Facebook, follow the WordPress blog by clicking on the link below which will deliver any blog posts to your inbox, including reviews, distillery visits, whisky news and advice.


Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.


Photo credits
  • Jura distillery – Gordon Brown / Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Road to Hell – john3corrigan.com

It’s not about the birds and bees

Flora and Fauna whisky explained.

Regular readers of my whisky blog would have seen me mention the Flora and Fauna range of whiskies. In fact I refer back to it quite often, but there is good reason to, as it is a range of whiskies that is almost unique.

the benrinnes flora and fauna label

The range was started in 1991 by DCL, which later became United Distillers, a company formed by the merger of DCL and Arthur Bell, both owed by Guinness. Guinness merged with Grand Metropolitan in 1997 and became known as Diageo. In 1998 United Distillers merged with International Distillers Vinters, and in 2001 became known as Diageo Scotland. Of course, in this tale, there was much dodgy dealings, as there was share trading fraud to enable Guinness to take over DCL, which saw 4 men going to prison.

No chance of a dram here – thefix.com

To make the next bit of history easier to understand, we’ll just refer the distiller as Diageo.

During the 1980’s, scores of distilleries were mothballed, some never to re-open again. Diageo closed 11 distilleries in 1983 alone. But come the 90’s things were starting to change, and single malts became more prominent. What was noticed was that although brown spirits, including blended whisky was declining, single malts were starting to perform strongly. This led to the formation of the Classic Malts, a series that still exists today, but is expanded. The original Classic Malts were Glenkinchie, Lagavulin, Talisker, Oban, Cragganmore and Dalwhinnie. These used to sit behind bars on a small plinth, and this brought the concept of regionality of single malts, and their different styles.

Classic Malts – Catawiki Auctions

There was a problem however – most of the distilleries Diageo now owned didn’t have their own bottling. If you were lucky, you may have seen an independent release, but for the overwhelming majority of whiskies, their output went straight into blended whiskies. This is something that continues, as 90% of malt production is for blends. This meant there was a niche available to showcase the malt distilleries in the Diageo portfolio, and this saw the start of a range from distilleries very few knew about, some of which perhaps still are only in the knowledge of whisky buffs.

The range started out with 22 whiskies, which weren’t mass marketed, but only sold at their visitor centres or limited distribution. Initially these were – Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Balmenach, Benrinnes, Bladnoch, Blair Athol, Caol Ila, Clynelish, Craigellachie, Dailuaine, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glenlossie, Inchgower, Linkwood, Mannochmore, Mortlach, Pittyvaich, Rosebank, Royal Brackla, Speyburn and Teaninich. All of these were initially released with a wooden box, but this eventually changed to a carton in some cases, and nothing at all in others. All were bottled at 43% abv.

Full collection – whiskyauctioneer.com

This was unheard of in the industry, but in one fell swoop, each Diageo malt whisky distillery had a bottling which its workers could taste and show off to their friends and family. The communities around the distilleries could sample some of the produce. People became aware of individual distillery characters. It was certainly a step forward.

The range never originally had a name. Flora and Fauna was actually coined by Michael Jackson (The late whisky writer and not the musical child abuser) who noted that each bottle in the range had a picture of either a plant or animal which could be found near to the distillery in question. It has stuck, even to the point that people within Diageo still refer as this as Flora and Fauna.

Known for his love of young boys, not whisky – google.com

In 1997, there were 9 of the range released as cask strength bottles. These were Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Blair Athol, Caol Ila, Clynelish, Dailuaine, Linkwood, Mortlach and Rosebank. These were numbered bottles and some are now extremely rare.

Cask Strength editions – scottishdelight.com

Fast forward to 2001. By this time, Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Balmenach, Bladnoch, Craigellachie, Royal Brackla and Speyburn distilleries had been sold. In fact, the story goes that Speyburn only produced a single run of Flora and Fauna whisky, and this is why it is the rarest of the lot. Pittyvaich was closed and demolished in 1993, and in the same year Rosebank ceased production. Bottlings continued until the stock ran out, apart from Speyburn and Balmenach, where the stock was part of the sale. 4 more malts were added to the range – Auchroisk, Glen Elgin, Glen Spey and Strathmill. These never had boxes or cartons.

Over time, some of the remaining bottlings in the series were discontinued in favour of a proper distillery release. Caol Ila, Clynelish, Glen Elgin, Dufftown, Mortlach and Glendullan now have their own distinct brand. Of the remaining 11 that are produced, Flora and Fauna is the only official release, with the exception of occasional Manager Drams or Special Releases. Only Blair Athol has a visitor centre and the remaining releases remain obscure distilleries in their own right.

While this is a great range, it isn’t without its drawbacks. At 43%, although is isn’t stated, you can bet your bottom dollar, each one of these whiskies has been chill filtered, the process which sees the impurities removed from the spirit that makes it go temporarily cloudy when water or ice is added. Unfortunately I believe this also removes the full depth of flavour.

The other downside is the likelihood that E150a (caramel colouring) has been added. This is to give colour consistency, but when one looks at the Dailuaine and Benrinnes, it has to be wondered if it has been added to emphasise the sherried casks used for maturation.

What else should be know about Flora and Fauna? Although 11 bottles are still supported by Diageo, it remains to be seen how long it will last in its current format. Benrinnes was originally distilled using a partial triple distillation up to 2007. As this is a 15 year old whisky, I’d suggest that we may see the Benrinnes discontinued in 2022, or at least a change in flavour. I do hope it continues, as Benrinnes is one of my favourites in the range. I’ve also tasted independent releases of Benrinnes, and it’s absolutely fantastic.

Another problem with this range is its availability. It is harder to find unless you visit a Diageo distillery, or a specialist whisky shop. Dailuaine is getting harder to find, which is also a great whisky – its my second favourite whisky in the range, but its a close neighbour of Benrinnes.

********GEEK FACT********

Dailuaine was the first distillery to have the pagoda style roof on the kiln roof (correctly known as a Doig Ventilator, named after the architect Charles C, Doig).

All the wooden boxes

As a small batch release, and not aggressively marketed, it isn’t always easy to get a hold of, but if you see one, try it. It almost has the status of a cult whisky collection, and certainly has a great visual appeal with the understated labels. Even the wooden boxes look good, and they are something you don’t see often on releases unless you pay for a premium malt. It is easy to see how this was ditched in favour of the cardboard box, then onto nothing at all.

The collection is highly collectable, but you need to be careful, as bottles start to get harder to get, the price will go up. All of the currently available bottles currently retail in the UK at under £65, with the majority of them under £50. The Dailuaine is the most expensive one, but remember it is the oldest one available at 16 year old.

If you go for a collection, try to remember my previous advice on collecting a series – if you can’t complete it, the price will be affected. The Royal Brackla, Craigellachie, Aultmore, Aberfeldy and Rosebank often trade above £250 a bottle. If they have the wooden box, expect to pay more. 16 of the bottles in the range have a cream / white capsule, and this denotes a first edition, which will increase the price more. Some of the rarer white caps trade between £300 – £800.

And here it gets complicated. If you choose to go for the white caps, you may end up with a secondary collection. I’ve 14 of the 16 white caps available, and when I get a white cap bottle, the black cap gets moved to my secondary collection. My secondary collection also includes a few white caps I picked up at a good price, although I am missing a Rosebank to have the 26 bottles in my secondary collection. Certainly this takes up a large portion of my storage unit.

Most of the rarer white caps.

The Speyburn is the holy grail, and will cost on average between £1000 and £1800. At the time of writing in Sept 2019, the Speyburn set a new Flora and Fauna record by breaking the £2000 barrier, being sold at a Whisky Hammer auction for £2050. Some lucky punter has just paid after auction fees £2300 for a bottle that cost less than £40 on release.

The rest of the black caps

******** Important note ********

If you have a box that has bottle with a label on the back that includes the UK duty paid image, then that bottle is not original to the box, and is from a later batch. This is not correct for collectors and could affect price.

Glenlossie showing its rear label

A white cap bottle should have a wooden box with it, but depending on the bottle, this will not vary price too much.

*******************************

And what for the future? I have contacted Diageo, asking if the Benrinnes F&F will be discontinued, whether the rumours of Dailuaine being discontinued are true, and what the future of the Flora and Fauna range is likely to be. Diageo were very good in their communication, but sadly declined to make any comment, as any information would be commercially sensitive. I can understand this, though reading between the lines, you can sort of imagine it may be coming to an end. The collection has been on the go for almost thirty years, and that alone is a quite an accolade. Very few brands nowadays last as long unchanged in the world of single malts. I suppose the whisky that is still available in the shops now will probably be slightly different to those first released, but it has been a great run although the end is probably a matter of time. And then this is where the prices will increase further.

In the meantime, although the remaining whiskies aren’t the best whiskies in the world, they are still a good dram, despite only being 43%, coloured and chill filtered. As I say so often, get them while you can, and certainly if you don’t want to collect them, certainly try the 11 that are still available in the shops. Benrinnes, Dailuaine, Auchroisk and Inchgower would be my go-to in the range, with Strathmill and Blair Athol next. I’ll review them as I get a chance, as I have a few samples left.

Slainte!


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Photos as credited. Others authors own.

The dizzying heights of Benrinnes

Taste Review 24 – Benrinnes 15 Flora and Fauna

Benrinnes with the distillery in the foreground.

There is an area just to the south of Aberlour which has a small clutch of distilleries. On the east side of the A95 there is Aberlour, GlenAllachie, Benrinnes and Allt-a-Ahainne. On the west side of the A95 there is Dailuaine and Dalmunach (built on the site of the former Imperial distillery). Apart from Aberlour, only the whisky enthusiast is likely to recognise the rest of these names. I feel however that this is away to change.

Benrinnes sits to the south east of Aberlour, just outside the hamlet of Edinville, in the shadow of the hill that gives the name to the distillery, and from its springs supplies the water for the whisky making processes.

Benrinnes is the highest hill in Speyside, with its summit being 840m above sea level. It’s unique shape is recognisable for miles around. It has a couple of granite tors on it like warts and it is a good couple of hours walk to the summit. Beneath its southern face on the lower slopes lies Allt-a-Bhainne distillery.

One fact about the Benrinnes distillery is that like Mortlach, it used to practice a partial triple distillation as illustrated below

The partial distillation process

This process took the feints (or the tails) from the wash still, and the weaker feints from the spirit still and distilled them again in a low wines (or intermediate) still. This process ended in 2007 at Benrinnes, but a 2.81 distillation still takes place at Mortlach. As this is a component of many Diageo blends, one wonders of the triple distillation was stopped to speed the process up and get more blending material to meet demand.

The Dram

Region

Speyside

Age

15 y.o

Strength

43% a.b.v

Colour

Amber

Nose

Dried fruits, toffee, rich, slight smoke.

Palate

Sweet, smooth full bodied, slight spicy edge, dried fruit, Caramel.

Finish

Short, dry with a slight spice, continuing with a dried fruit theme of raisins

Alongside independent bottlings

Conclusion

Let’s get down to what this dram gets wrong. It is chill filtered and it has added colouring. You can see the difference in colour alongside the two independent bottles in the photograph above. I suspect that this is done to either to accentuate the colour of the spirit after being in a sherry cask, or it is to ensure colour consistency. I have recently bought a James Eadie Benrinnes cask strength bottle that was bottled after 13 years from a Madeira cask with no added colouring, and it is just slightly darker.

The Flora and Fauna bottling isn’t the best whisky in the world, but it is far from the worst. It has a great sherry influence, and a full, rich body which gives a dry hint of spicy heat at the end and a faint aroma of smoke. For those who miss the sherry bomb of the Mortlach 16 in the Flora and Fauna range, the Benrinnes 15 is a very close match.

I like this dram and I like it a lot. For the price paid, it gives a lot more than you would expect and it is one of the best bottles in the Flora and Fauna range that are still produced. It is relatively simple to get in the UK, and you will still see it at Diageo distilleries, and in specialist whisky shops and online retailers.

As the Flora and Fauna bottle is the only official release from this distillery, apart from a couple of special editions, your best bet if you want to experiment is to seek this one from an independent bottler. I have to say the one I tried from Robertson’s of Pitlochry was fantastic as a single cask, 9 year old, cask strength. Very spicy finish and my only regret was not buying 2. So, my James Eadie will be my Benrinnes independent drinking bottle and will be reviewed in due course.

Another brand which is bottled with Benrinnes is from A.D Rattray is the Stronachie bottling, which was a lost distillery; the spirit distilled in Benrinnes but matured in Bourbon casks is supposed to be close to the original Stronachie malt. I have a miniature of this, and it will be reviewed in the New Year.

And speaking of lost distilleries, Benrinnes stopped the partial distillation of its spirit in 2007. With 2022 being the last bottling date of the original style spirit, we remain to see if Benrinnes will go the way of other former F&F bottlings, and be replaced by a solo brand, such as what happened to Clynelish, Caol Ila, Dufftown and Glendullan.

I got in contact with Diageo, as I had also heard rumours about Dailuaine being discontinued. They replied that they could not reveal or deny any plans. But Benrinnes and Dailuaine have been in the F&F range since 1991. Maybe a change is due? We will see. Until then, if you see this on a shelf, buy it. It should cost about £52 which is not bad for a 15 y.o malt of this stature.

Until the next review….

Slainte Mhath!


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or liking sharing this article by clicking on icons below.

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Picture credits

Benrinnes distillery – Martin Jenkins under Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Partial distillation diagram taken from Whisky Science under fair use.

Other pictures authors own.


Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.