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Benrinnes is a malt whisky distillery in Aberlour, Scotland producing an eponymous whisky.
It was founded in 1826, and is still active. The distillery employed a unique partial triple distillation process until 2007.
Benrinnes employed some unusual production techniques. Between 1974 and 2007 the distillery used a unique partial triple distillation process. In this process the feints from the wash still, the weaker parts of feints of the spirit still, and the feints from the low wine still itself are distilled in a low wines still, while the spirit still is fed by the foreshots and the heart of the wash and low wine still, and its own foreshots and strong feints. The necks of the stills are cooled by worm tubs, a technique that is no longer very common.
The stillhouse of the Benrinnes distillery contains six stills: two wash stills and four spirit stills. The stills are arranged in two groups of three. Each group consists of one wash still and two spirit stills. We explain the distillation method on the basis of one group.
In the first wash still distillation, the 8% wort, which was fermented in eight Oregon pine washbacks, is separated into two parts.
The first part, called the head, runs through the spirit safe in about an hour and a half and goes to spirit still number 1; this part has an alcohol content of more than 30.
The second part, called the tail, runs through the spirit safe in about two and a half hours and goes to spirit still number 2; this part has an alcohol content of less than 30.
The second distillation at spirit still number 1 is again divided into two parts. The first part, the headline, runs for about one hour and goes to spirit still number 2; this part has an alcohol percentage of around 66.
The second part, the tail, runs for about two hours and is distilled again in spirit still number 1. The distillation in spirit still number 2 is simply divided into three parts: front‑, middle‑ and follow-up. The front run runs for about ten minutes and goes to spirit still number 1. The middle run runs for four and a half to five hours and has an alcohol percentage of 75.5 on average. This middle loop is the end product and is transported here directly in tank trucks to the warehouse complex of the Cambus grain distillery, where the spirit is brought to a barrel. The trail runs for about one and a half hours and is distilled again in spirit still number 2.
This process is the same for the second group of stills.
A small amount of new sherry casks are used for maturation, as well as refill and bourbon casks.
Benrinnes produces one 15 year old bottling in the Flora and Fauna range since 1991.
The majority of the spirit has been used in blends, notably Johnnie Walker and J&B. Today, single malt whiskies from Benrinnes remain a rare treat.
The first time whisky was produced at the site of Benrinnes distillery was in 1826, when a distillery was founded by Peter McKenzie. This distillery was destroyed by a flood in 1829, and was rebuilt in 1835 in the outbuildings of a farmhouse by John Innes, and officially founded under the name Lyne of Ruthrie The distillery went bankrupt, and Lyne of Ruthrie was sold to William Smith.
Smith changed the name of the distillery to the present name Benrinnes before selling the property to David Edward who ran the distillery until his son Alexander Edward took over operation of the distillery.
In 1887 Alfred Barnard described the distillery in his work The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom. At this time the distillery had two stills, a wash still with a capacity of 1080 gallons, and a spirit still of 1004 gallons.
In 1896 the distillery was damaged in a fire. It was rebuilt and modernised; the distillery converted to be powered by electricity.
The distillery was sold to John Dewar & Sons in 1922. Under Dewars it was rebuilt in 1955, replacing the malting floors with a Saladin box, and ending the farming activities on the site.
The distillery was expanded in 1966, adding three stills to the three present stills, which were all converted to internal heating in 1970.
In 1974 Benrinnes changed its distillation process to a partial triple distillation process. The distillery stopped producing its own malt in 1984 opting to buy malt on the market instead, and removed its saladin box.
In 1991 Benrinnes released their first official botteling the 15 year old Flora and Fauna.
The triple distillation process was abandoned in 2007, when it switched to a more common configuration of two wash stills and four spirit stills.
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At this point Benrinnes core range is:
- 15 year old Flora & Fauna
- 21 year old single malt special release 1992 – 2014
- Diageo Special releases 2009
- Diageo Special release 2014
- Benrinnes 1995 casks of distinction
- Benrinnes 1992 Flora & Fauna