08 December 2023
The history of Benrinnes is as intriguing as its whisky. Originally built in 1826 by Peter MacKenzie, the distillery faced challenges early on, including destruction by a flood in 1829. The current site is its second location, established by John Innes. Over the years, it has seen various owners, including the notable Alexander Edward, who had connections to several other distinguished distilleries. Since 1922, after surviving a fire in 1896, Benrinnes has been a part of the Diageo stable, ensuring its legacy continues.
Benrinnes Distillery employs a unique approach to whisky production. Unlike most distilleries, Benrinnes used a form of partial triple distillation for years. This process involved splitting the low wines from the first distillation into strong and weak feints. The weaker portion would undergo a second distillation in the middle still, further dividing it into stronger and weaker parts. The stronger feints, combined with the highest strength distillate from the wash still, were then redistilled in the spirit still. This complex process contributed significantly to the character of Benrinnes' whisky, imparting a meaty and slightly sulphury new make character.
Another notable aspect of Benrinnes Distillery is its use of worm tubs, a traditional method of condensing vapours back into liquid. These worm tubs are maintained at a very cold temperature, which plays a crucial role in adding weight and meatiness to the spirit. This traditional approach, though labour-intensive, is a nod to the distillery's commitment to maintaining certain classic elements of whisky making.
In recent years, the distillery has simplified its complex distillation process. However, the essence of Benrinnes' distinctive character remains. The distillery produces a range of whiskies, including the Stronachie brand. Additionally, the meaty quality of Benrinnes' whisky places it in a similar stylistic camp as other notable Speyside distilleries like Dailuaine, Mortlach, and Cragganmore.
Benrinnes Distillery, with its unique distillation method, traditional techniques, and storied history, is a remarkable player in the world of Speyside single malt Scotch whisky. While it may not be as widely recognised as some of its counterparts, the distillery's commitment to quality and character makes it a hidden gem for whisky enthusiasts. Whether through its independent bottlings or its signature Flora and Fauna series, Benrinnes offers a distinct and memorable whisky experience.
Check out the short film we made at Benrinnes in 2018 when we featured Benrinnes Flora & Fauna 15 Year Old