Benrinnes distillery was established in 1826 and is located in Aberlour in Banffshire. A flood destroyed the distillery in 1829, and it was rebuilt in 1835. Ownership of the distillery changed a number of times until it was acquired by John Dewar & Sons in 1922. In 1974, Benrinnes changed its distillation process to a “partial triple distillation process”, meaning that the feints from all (wash, feints and spirit still) distillations were redistilled in the low wines still and the first part of that was added to the spirit run. This process was abandoned in 2007 when the distillery switched to a more common configuration of two wash stills and four spirit stills. The 15-year old ‘Flora & Fauna’ bottling was first released in 1991 and remains the only semi-official bottling regularly available.
The nose is herbal and lightly fruity with flavours of prunes, marzipan and dark chocolate. Distinct sherry notes are then followed by very faint smoke. Clearly, this has been matured in first-fill ex-sherry casks.
The palate is light-bodied (almost watery) and a tad spicy. Flavours of oranges and dark fruits come first, followed by notes of nuts and ever increasing wood spice. Then, an obtrusive bitterness starts to develop and mingles with flavours of caramel and marzipan.
The finish is of medium length and pleasantly warming. The grassy and herbal flavours that I had detected on the nose are back, together notes of sherry and honey.
This was my first ever Benrinnes and it did not impress me too much; in particular I was not too fond of the watery palate. As this is highly sought after by blenders, it never became a true single malt of its own – all the more reason to try a single cask bottling one of these days.