I feel that nothing from the Flora & Fauna series will ever surpass the legendary Mortlach 16yo. But hey, we can never be sure, so we have to regularly test this “feeling”. An interesting journey all by itself. Apart from the aforementioned Mortlach, one can also find reviews of Teaninich 10yo and two, yes, two batches of the Benrinnes 15yo here at Master Quill. One from 2001 and one from 2008. The two Benrinnes reviews showed that there can be substantial batch variation within this series. Both similar yet one “bigger” than the other. From memory, I also compared once, head to head, two different batches of Blair Athol 12yo (both batches some ten years apart) that also had a staggering difference of 10 points. Both essentially different from one another.
Mortlach, Benrinnnes, Dailuaine and Blair Athol are the most prominently Sherried expressions within the Flora & Fauna series, and the Teaninich, in comparison, was a very light (probably Bourbon only) offering and to be honest quite underwhelming as well. Mind you, I have a soft spot for Teaninich, just not this particular Flora and Fauna bottling. Alas. But hey, it might only just be a lesser batch. Considering the cost, and being official bottlings, the Flora and Fauna series are quite popular with seasoned Whisky aficionado’s. I’m not even sure the general public even knows what the Flora and Fauna series is. If you want to know a bit more of its history, please have a look at the intro of the Teaninich review.
Color: Copper brown.
Nose: Very, very old skool Sherry bottling, instant reminder of, for instance, the Gordon & MacPhail Strathisla 25yo I reviewed earlier and also an old skool Sherry bottling (@ 40% ABV). Mind you, that Strathisla scored 94 Points in the end, so that’s saying something. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we all know that ones Whisky-experience is more than the nose alone. Beautiful sweaty and funky Sherried Whisky with chocolate powder, tar and coal dust. A true classic nose. I can hardly imagine this was distilled at the end of the eighties, surely there must be some (much) older Whisky in here? Chances are slim though, with such a large general release. Old Sherry, slightly tarry with spicy old toasted wet oak and sweet mocha. Haagsche Hopjes (a Dutch coffee candy, pictured here to the right). Dusty, coal dust, paper dust and hot clear machine oil. Slightly spicy. Old oil-based half dried out paint. Lots of ripe red fruits mixed in with the coal. Tarry even. After all of this, some more wood emerges, still wet and more of the paper note, yet also slightly more modern now. A quality like this from the end of the eighties is in fact possible, the nose of the very first Hazelburn 12yo (Rotation 09/335) is similarly good, as well as its predecessor, the first edition of the Hazelburn 8yo. Reviews of both are already in the works. Maybe all three came from the same sort of casks? What was in these casks previously I wonder. I’m looking at this bottle, and still I can’t believe this smells like it does. Amazing, really. A fresh pour has some farmy elements to it that dissipates very quickly. The only beef I have with this Whisky is that it smells a wee bit too sweet, so I did have some worries about the taste.
Taste: Sweet and very syrupy right out of the gate. Yes the old skool is here too, or is it still my extensive sniffing that does this trick? This syrupy thickness doesn’t have a long life though. It becomes thin quite quickly and some unexpected bitterness emerges. Tarry, licorice and coal, as well as some hot plastic from burning cables. The sweetness does pop up now and again with a new sip taken. Taste wise definitely not as stellar as the nose. Less complex, not that big any more and also somewhat less balanced. But tasty it still is and warming as well. Right now the sweetness is kept in check, but I know from carelessly sipping the first half of the bottle, this Whisky can also be quite sweet. By now its not as sweet as the nose seemed to have promised. Actually the sweetness itself is quite well balanced by now. Strange enough the nose now seems even sweeter than it is on my palate. Especially late in the evening. (Sniffing it, the nose is still stellar, and still evolving a bit). I know, you can’t smell “the sweet”. It has bitter and astringent notes, yet right after these notes seem to dominate, the whisky lets free some creamy vanilla notes as well, which fit the steam punk industrial notes quite nicely. Nice. The finish does let it down a bit, the balance also suffers a bit in the finish. To be honest, they are not the nicest aromas that manage to stay behind the longest. More wood, spice and bitterness. All of a sudden a hint of oaked Chardonnay. Didn’t see that coming.
This one really benefited from extended breathing, the emptier the bottle the better the Whisky became. Even though the taste is definitely less special than the nose, the Whisky is still a cracker. On par with the quality of the Mortlach I would say. I enjoyed both thoroughly, and for the price you pay,,this one can be considered as dirt cheap, whereas the Mortlach is getting more and more expensive on the secondary market with every passing month. Supply (none, the Mortlach F&F is discontinued) and demand (high). I wonder how newer batches of this Dailuaine are (the label has been changed from 2017 onwards). Nice smell from the empty glass as well. Definitely recommended. I wonder if newer batches of Dailuaine manage to maintain the style of this older one. Only time will tell.
Points: 88 points (again)