Benrinnes is a Scottish whisky distillery in the famous Speyside region. Two distilleries have carried the name. The original was established in 1826 but was destroyed in a flood. The current distillery was founded in 1835. The name is shared with the mountain that overlooks the site.
The distillery is home to single malt whisky for use in Diageo's blended Scotch brands.
The Benrinnes single malt has a unique character. It shares many of the fruity notes commonly found in Speyside whisky but also has an unusual meaty note. The mature whisky is robust and full-bodied.
Benrinnes was once produced using a complex method of partial triple distillation. In 2007, however, that practice was abandoned for a more traditional double distillation technique.
The whisky's unique meaty character is created during distillation. The stills are run fast in order to limit copper contact and preserve sulphur while their wide necks and downward-facing lyne arms minimise reflux.
The vapours then condense in worm tubs which are known to produce a more robust spirit. Finally, the middle cut of the spirit run is kept deliberately wide in order to capture heavier flavour compounds.
Because of its full-bodied nature, Benrinnes copes well with maturation in European oak sherry casks. Casks that once held bourbon whiskey from the USA are also used to age the spirit.
Benrinnes can produce around 2.5 million litres per annum. Most of that spirit is used in blended Scotch brands like Johnnie Walker and J&B.
The only official single malt bottling is a 15-year-old that forms part of Diageo’s Flora & Fauna range. However, limited batch or single cask expressions are often released by independent bottlers.
The original Benrinnes distillery was established by Peter MacKenzie in 1826. It stood near Whitehouse Farm at the foot of Ben Rinnes, an 841m mountain in Speyside. The distillery was destroyed in the Great Flood of 1829, a disaster that saw the River Spey break its banks and claim several lives.
Six years later, John Innes created a new distillery. Though originally named Lyne of Ruthrie, it would later be renamed Benrinnes. Unfortunately, the owner was declared bankrupt within three years and the distillery sold to William Smith & Co.
Smith & Co remained at the helm for 30 years before they too went bust in 1865. The distillery was then scooped up by local entrepreneur, David Edward.
In 1896, much of Benrinnes had to be rebuilt after a devastating fire destroyed the still house. Only the quick thinking of a team of slaters working onsite prevented further damage. They cut the roof between the still house and the warehouse and stopped the fire from spreading further.
The distillery was rebuilt and modernised by Alexander Edward and Charles Doig. Then, in 1922, it was taken over by John Dewar & Sons. Three years later, the parent company was absorbed by DCL.
Further remodelling took place in 1955. In 1966, the stills were doubled from three to six.
The 15-year-old Flora & Fauna bottling was first released in 1991. It remains the only regularly available bottling on the market today.