Stronachie, a 'bastard' Benrinnes

The production capacity of Benrinnes was expanded significantly in 1966 by increasing the number of stills from three to six. In 1970 Benrinnes switched from mechanical stoking to internal heating. In 1974 the production regime was changed again when the distillery switched to a system of 'partial triple distillation'. So-called 'feints and low wines' produced in the second distillation (in the first spirit still) are distilled again in the second spirit still.

Where to find Benrinnes

Water source:

Benrinnes location
Benrinnes single malt whisky

Benrinnes  (Pronounced: benRINnes)
Speyside (Central)
Glenfarclas, Daluaine, Aberlour, Glenallachie
Scurran Burn & Rowantree Burn
2 Wash, 2 Spirit
2.600,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Diageo > UDV (since 1925)
Aberlour, Banffshire, AB38 9NN

Benrinnes Distillery Profile

Benrinnes single malt whiskyTrack Record - overview of all single malts and scores
Benrinnes distillery

Benrinnes was rebuilt in 1955/1956 and the traditional floor maltings were replaced by a so-called 'Saladin Box' in 1964. This is a giant flat box that mechanically turns the germinating barley inside and allows air to pass through it. The Saladin Box (named after its inventor Charles Saladin) was removed again in 1984 when Benrinnes stopped producing its own malted barley.

Benrinnes Scotch Whisky

Benrinnes 1968/???? (40%, G&M Connoisseur's Choice, Old Brown Label)
Nose: Sweet & floral. Some nutty elements. Organics. Orange. Fat York Ham. Peaty over time.
Taste: Not very well defined. Tea? Short finish. Just a tad too bitter for my tastes.
Score: 79 points - very close to 'recommendable', but not quite...
I guess that makes it an 'average' Benrinnes.

Benrinnes 12yo 1989/2002 (43%, Coopers Choice)
Nose: Sherry. Some smoke. A little alcoholic. Pleasant composition. Quite light.
Starts strong and becomes even more powerful after a minute. More smoke.
Taste: Sherry and smoke. Woody. Deep flavours, but a bit 'muddy'. Liquorice feeling.
Score: 79 points - another Benrinnes that approaches recommendability.
Nothing wrong here, but just not remarkable enough for a score in the 80's.

Benrinnes 1985/1999 (43%, Mac Kullick's Choice, Distilled in May 1985, Cask #1213)
Nose: Grainy and 'veggy' over a soft sweet underground. Not much depth at first.
Soft pepper? Maggi? Sweetish with a hint of dust now and then. Fresher with time
Remains restrained. Much lighter and grainier than any other Benrinnes I tried so far.
Taste: Hot. Gritty with a hint of coffee in the centre. Too thin. Astringent, dry finish.
Score: 73 points - I'd have to classify this as 'below average', but not very much.
Based on previous encounters with Benrinnes I was ready to like this a lot, actually.
Nevertheless, I'll have to conclude that as a single malt it's slightly disappointing.
Other bottlings I tried (especially the 15yo Flora & Fauna) had a much character.
Other bottlings have a more pronounced sherry character that set them apart from the crowd.
This 'Mac Kullick' is fairly MOTR and hardly the best example of Benrinnes available.

Benrinnes 15yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, 70cl) - my first ever bottle of Benrinnes.
Nose: Sweet and sherried. Fruity with a hint of smoke. Very appealing from the start.
Maggi? Stock cubes. Plenty of the lovely 'organics' that I love in some sherried malts.
Furniture wax. Old fruits. Grows very rich and complex. Exquisite! Powerful too. Amazing!
Wood (wet, dead oak burning in the autumn). With a drop of water the nose improves even further.
Taste: Sherried with notable leathery notes. Bittersweet. Sherry dryness with smooth episodes.
Very nice. Oaky and smoky. Orange. Long, dry finish with sherry moving back and forth.
Score: 83 points - for a long time my first ever Benrinnes remained my favourite.

Benrinnes 1978/1995 'Centenary Reserve' (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, 70cl).
Nose: Fruity with a whiff of peat. Quite fresh with a soft, beguiling sweetness.
It grows notably oilier after a while. Interesting development but little 'volume'.
Taste: Soft start. A wonderful toffee sweetness emerges quickly - and disappears again.
No sweetness left after 5 minutes. Fresh burn. Bitter in the finish with flashes of liquorice.
Score: 77 points - not quite what I expected w.r.t. style and performance.
Still, I don't think oxidation (this bottle has a screwcap) is to blame here.

Benrinnes 1972/1995 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label)
Nose: Oh boy!!! Extremely rich and sherried - not your average 'MOTR' CC.
Quickly grassy elements and organics join the party. Spices. Salmiak. Brilliant.
Something veggy. Whiff of smoke. It also sweetens out after a little while.
Taste: It starts very odd as well - but not is such a good way as the nose.
Fortunately, it sweetens out and becomes very big and chewy on the palate.
Nice - but then it dries out again in the finish, leaving a coffee-like bitterness.
Score: 86 points - a great malt, but I don't like the palate enough to go higher.

Check out my Track Record for a complete and up-to-date overview of all 'siplings' I've tried.

The Benrinnes distillery (sometimes spelled 'Ben Rinnes')
was built near the site of an earlier distillery which was
constructed near Whitehouse Farm, Banffshire in 1826.
Perhaps not the most fortunate choice of locations:
that first distillery was destroyed by a flood in 1829.

Ordinary people might have given up, but not the Scots.
Another distillery was constructed nearby in or around
1835. This new distillery changed hands several times
before John Dewar & Sons acquired Benrinnes in 1922.
Dewar merged with DCL (now part of UDV) in 1925.

Benrinnes is one of the few distilleries still using a so-called 'worm tub' to cool the vapours and
condensed spirit from the running stills. In 2005 only thirteen other distilleries used this system;
Balmenach, Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Edradour, Glen Elgin, Glenkinchie, Mortlach , Oban,
Old Pulteney, Royal Lochnagar, Speyburn, Springbank (wash still only) and Talisker.

Trivia about Benrinnes: In 2003 a mysterious malt called 'Stronachie' appeared on
the market. Although there used to be an actual 'Stronachie' distillery around a century ago,
this turned out to be a
'bastard malt' that has very little to do with that historical distillery. Although the Stronachie is presented as a composition 'inspired' by the profile of a bottle of
Stronachie from 1904 found somewhere, organoleptic tests and rumours indicate that these
new bottles of Stronachie contain nothing else than Benrinnes 12yo. It's a decent enough
malt (and quite friendly priced at that), but I personally prefer 'the real thing' at 15yo.
So, don't believe all the hyped up copywriting you can read on the label...

In 1998 UD (United Distillers, part of Guiness Group) and IDV (International Distillers & Vintners,
part of Grand Metropolitan Group) merged into UDV (United Distillers & Vintners, part of Diageo).
The official 'Flora & Fauna' bottling shown at the left was first released in 1991, but anybody
that wants to try more different expressions will have to look to the independent bottlers.

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