Benrinnes 15yo “Flora & Fauna” (43%, OB, L15P00535367, Circa 2001)

Long time no see! I took a month off, since a lot happened lately. First of all, a new job, which is nice, takes up a lot of time though, and the moments I did have left for writing reviews, were also spent differently than I initially expected. Apart from that, also The Whisky Show in London happened. Today, instead of reviewing something new from that show, I chose an oldie from my lectern.

Just like the Flora & Fauna Mortlach bottling I reviewed earlier, this is a bottle I brought with me to a gathering of my Whisky club, and as can happen when opening old bottles, the cork broke quite easily, crumbled to a pulp. You gotta love those corks now don’t you? Of all the Flora & Fauna bottlings, Mortlach, Dailuaine and this Benrinnes are the really Sherried ones (but there are more). Experience also shows us there is definitely some batch variation going on in the Flora & Fauna series. Here we have an oldie, supposedly bottled in 2001 (or 2002), so not a recent one, which might be entirely different.

Color: Orange brown.

Nose: Heavy on the Sherry. Nice and earthy. Meaty, cold gravy. Thick aroma. Coal and steam. Is it already a sherried bottling from a different time than ours? How would a more recent example compare? This was distilled in the eighties, which was a different era compared to a Gordon & MacPhail Longmorn from 1971. So heavy on the Sherry. Thick and astringent. Dry and not as fruity as Longmorn. If you ask me, this compares more to the style of Glenfarclas, drier and not-so-fruity. Funky, tarry, musk, brown sugar, coffee creamer and definitely Vanilla. American oak. Still not a lot of fruit though. Hints of very ripe cherries mixed in with oak. Dry, dusty and quite spicy. Hints of cask toast including the smell of molten plastic. Meaty, cooked vegetables with more oak and spices. Hard to tell which spices though, although anise and cloves come to mind, as well as some crushed beetle (that’s not a spice isn’t it?). I can’t help but feel there are some older casks used for this particular expression. Good and interesting, but also a bit “strange”. A hint of soap (not of the perfumy kind) and mocha.

Taste: On entry, a brief light moment, almost like a underproof Whisky (which it is not). Soft, but luckily not “smooth”. It has wonderful raw edges and does show some bitter (and soapy) notes as well, which do work well. Fruitier than the nose, and already one that needs to breathe. Somewhat sweeter than expected, caramel but also the brown sugar I got from the nose, all in good measure though. Tar and plastic yes, cherries? yes as well, but that’s about it. Does it matter? No, since it is a different kind of Sherried Whisky. Lots of (sweet) licorice (and toffee) in stead, it almost tastes salty. Again, a very interesting and tasty experience. Wonderful body, but it sometimes falls apart a bit in the finish (depending on the moment). Finish isn’t as long as one would think, but still has enough length. Well, if it’s a problem, take another sip then. Tar and coal make up the aftertaste, and Sherry of course.

For me, another gem in the Flora & Fauna range. Especially looking at those earlier bottlings, there were quite a few more than wonderful examples there. Mortlach, Blair Athol, Rosebank, all excellent. Worth looking for. I really need to have a look at more recent bottlings in this range to compare them to the older ones…

People start to pay silly money for the Flora & Fauna Mortlach, and it doesn’t even seem to matter if it’s an older one or one of the last. Granted, they are very good, but really, this 2001 bottling of Benrinnes is equally as good!

Points: 88

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Mortlach 16yo “Flora & Fauna” (43%, OB, L19T00187153, Circa 2002)

This saturday Het Genietschap had another gathering. This time at Jos’. Jos usually has one and the same theme: “lets enjoy any whisky”. This time, like last year, he choose a single distillery theme. Last year he choose Strathisla, after we found some nice Strathisla’s at Max Righi’s shop.

One of the other gems he found there, was a very old 20yo Sestante Mortlach, so the theme for this year soon became Mortlach. I have to admit, I really love a tasting with a single distillery theme, especially when a lot of bottles are brought in. Strange enough that was not the case with Strathisla, but with Mortlach we had 14 of them, and an extensive aftertasting with some other gems. (Laphroaig 10yo unblended bottled in the mid 70’s!).

So I brought two Mortlachs, this one being one of them. This is a Flora and Fauna bottling from ten years ago, and as was proven to me, there can be quite a difference between bottlings in this series. So it would be great to compare this to the most recent version of this. Without further ado:

Color: Orange

Nose: The nose explodes in the glass, and can be smelled from afar. Nice rich sherry, very balanced and warming. There is some coal in there, as is some asphalt, tar and some smoke. A small hint of mint. Slightly perfumy and powdery. Some added lemon peel freshness with vanilla. Not overly complex, but an instant hit.

Taste: Chewy sherry, sweet and very likable. Very smooth. Perfect balance. Small amount of woody bitterness to counterpart the sweetness, but the latter wins. This is a grown (wo)man’s lemonade. Dangerously easy drinkable. Inside the sweetness also some licorice, tar and sugared almonds can be found. The finish is the same and slowly dies away. Late in the finish there is, and dare I say this: pineapple. Very balanced and well made.

This is just a perfect Flora & Fauna bottling. Maybe just a tad too sweet, but that depends on your mood. This bottle is very nice, but at the moment I can’t vouch for more recent bottlings. When I have a chance to taste a more modern one, I’ll write a comment, so watch out for that in the future.

Points: 88