The Flora and Fauna range is an under marketed, below the radar series of whiskies from Diageo. The series was originally not given a name and was nicknames as such by Mr Michael Jackson. For those not in the know this gentleman was a whisky journalist before being such a thing was pretty much made extinct by people like me doing a far worse job of informing the public about the world of Scottish spirits. *sorry*
Regardless, the man has stuck and being more formally adopted by the brand. Now there is a small collection of whiskies still bottled under the brand and sporadically available throughout the year. For a far more interesting and comprehensive explanation you should definitely check out Roy’s YouTube video on the subject.
This Benrinnes comes from stock which was distilled when spirit was partially triple distilled in a similar vain to Mortlach. This gives the whisky a meaty texture and interesting complexity. The flora and fauna bottling is 15 years old and is the only official release from the distillery which is available. It is bottled at quite a low 43% ABV and probably had the colouring and filtering treatment. Not all the whiskies are the same colour in the range so perhaps the treatment was not the most extensive which is a good sign.
While these releases look old-fashioned and a lot of them are discontinued this one is still available. Being an often overlooked range though they are quite difficult to pick up apart from the specialist whisky websites. Over there you should expect to pay in the region of £50 for a bottle which is pretty good value.
Colour – copper orange
Nose – ginger and pepper. A meaty thick cheesy funky smell is the most obvious thing though. This is balanced off with a sweet fruity sherry note and a biscuity base from a cake. That cheese note I can see putting people off though… or make people go weak at the knees. Whisky marmite 😀
Palate – The sweet raisins and fruit cake from the sherry influence dominates the palate. The texture is silky and light with a herb and mint undertones throughout.
Finish – The finish isn’t particularly long but it is drying and bitter. A charred wood note comes out for the first time as well which turns sour. To tie everything together you can pick up more malt biscuits and then gingerbread which we also noticed in the nose.
Benrinnes is one of those distilleries which indi bottlers seem to be able to pick up cheaply and bang out as single casks. I have three of them on this site and none really inspired me. They were all bland, boring and even at quite an old range and natural cask strength, insipid. That can give a distillery a bad name and I wasn’t expecting to like this release from Flora and Fauna when a sample arrived as part of my Whisky-me subscription.
This is an interesting, well priced and enjoyable whisky. If the rest of the range is like this I will have to complete the set and get them all soon! There is a range of different flavours going on and some really good cask maturation using decent sherry casks. The ABV could be higher but even with the lowly 43% there is enough flavour going on to make it worthy of buying now.