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Dailuaine 16 Flora and Fauna

Recently, Taylor talked about sleeper distilleries citing a Samaroli Braeval as a perfect instance of something remarkable bubbling underneath the radar. An unforeseen culmination of whisky forces; combining to give us a moment to remember. Or the single cask format as it’s known. The glorious rollercoaster of highs and lows that keeps me entertained within the whisky realm.

It’s already common knowledge that Mark and I disagree over the single cask format. A man of Tweed, it seems he prefers to combine casks and create layers of detail. This approach is always fraught with danger as such marriages can clash, or even eradicate features of delight. The subtle differences between single cask oddities versus a more orchestrated approach will be an ongoing debate alongside what is wrong with Jura and why is Glenlivet so dull? Questions that never receive a suitable answer during our lifetime.

Then there are the things we agree upon. For instance, whiskies that are bottled at 40% with a special opt-out clause for the cheapest of blends. Part of me also wants to extend this to 43%, which seems a halfway house when most should actually man or woman-up and give us the acceptable 46% strength. Then further common ground is the use of artificial colouring and this brings us nicely to the Dailuaine 16-year-old, which is the official representative from Diageo that forms part of the Flora and Fauna range.

Dailuaine is a distillery that I have a great deal of time for. I predict we’ll see more interest around it in the coming years. After all, it was chosen to fill the Clynelish void whilst that distillery was rebuilt internally. While we wait with bated breath for Clynelish to rediscover its waxy core characteristic, we at least have this overlooked Speyside producer doing an admirable substitution role.

I’m a fan of Dailuaine and will always consider a single cask release much like those from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Affordable and generally overlooked, I do find that these grow in stature the more time you spend with a bottle. Given the opportunity to review the Flora and Fauna release (thanks Matteo) highlights the difference between this iconic range and the general day to day Dailuaine we see from the independent sector. I’ve always felt the Flora and Fauna range to be elevated in stature with rose tinted glasses and fond memories twisting the reality of the product. The whiskies themselves, on the whole, tend to be over-engineered and not truly representative of the distillery.

Pouring a sample of this release for review, looking at the bottle, the eye-catching aspect is the sheer vivid colour. It’s frankly ridiculous and atrocious that we’re still seeing releases laced with colouring like this. I just don’t see the benefit? Memories of the now deleted and atrocious Bowmore Black Rock are revived. A creation so saturated in artificial colouring that you could taste it and the rejection from your internal organs as they were coated in a fake tan.

Of course, it is perfectly legal to add caramel colouring to a whisky, otherwise known as E150a. Water-soluble it has been used in whisky for as long as we can remember. Its application is to change the natural colour. There are voices that highlight that caramel itself is derived from sugar and that this must influence the whisky at hand. For the majority of the time, the answer is no, even for the most ardent of Columbo palates when used sparingly. When the excessive application is pursued then I believe the flavours are influenced.

For blenders, it is an important tool to foster consistency of appearance. It’s also a marketing trick. The richer the colour, then onlookers will assume a whisky is sherry matured and potentially of greater age. An immediate correlation is made by the onlooker with quality in mind. We’re also seeing distilleries becoming wiser to the accepted core rules around the presentation of a whisky. Natural colour is a popular preference nowadays and often reflective of the cask. The use of more 1st fill sherry casks and smaller cask types all bring that colour emphasis back into the hands of the distillery. Rather than letting time do its work and produce the rich seam of virtual detail that shines like a beacon on the shop floor.

For this Dailuaine we do have sherry casks within the make-up of this creation but not in the quantity to provide this leathery appearance. Artificial colouring is here and to many experienced onlookers, it has been applied recklessly and without abandon. Visually at least that’s my suspicion and the only way to investigate further is to step into the review itself.

Dailuaine 16 Year Old Flora and Fauna – review

Colour: A rich caramel.

On the nose: Honeycomb, brown toast and a yeasty element. Then toffee, syrup and that fake plastic leather followed by a metallic aspect. Oaty biscuits, black pepper and dried fruits.

In the mouth: Very gentle with toffee, elements of chocolate and a metallic finish. Coffee beans and a resonating bitterness midway that drifts into the finish. Walnuts provide a nutty aspect. Is this it? Ginger, brass shavings and a hint of smoke.

Conclusions

This is just too engineered and you can taste the colouring, which has been thickly applied. This isn’t the Dailuaine that I know and enjoy today. A bastard whisky, created in a lab for the masses. I’m left cold and disappointed.

If you’re looking to discover the charms of Dailuaine then please look to the independents and give this official offering a wide berth.

Score: 3/10

CategoriesSingle Malt
  1. John
    John says:

    I’ve heard a rum blender say e150 changes the smell of a spirit. And since what we smell is what we taste, I guess it’s safe to say e150 indirectly affects flavor.

    He has 2 rums of the same blend yet 1 has more e150 than the other. A lot say the 2 are different and question if they’re really the same blend.

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Hi John

      I’d agree when it is excessively used it is very apparent on the nose and palate. It seems to be one of those taboo subjects that are overlooked in whisky nowadays. I’d rather just remove colour altogether from the equation, including from our tastings notes in our articles.

      Cheers, Jason.

        1. Jason
          Jason says:

          And that’s the problem. Even today’s reviews from the Solaria series. People will focus on the colour, which doesn’t mean much in whisky. Folk need to stop being obsessed by colour!

  2. Avatar
    John H says:

    I started getting into whisky about 15 years ago, and the Flora and Fauna range was a huge eye opener to me back then, as they were terrific and affordable. Mortlach, Dailuaine and Ben Rinnes were my favourites. I recently bought a bottle of the Ben Rinnes and was shocked to find it was a pale reflection of what it used to be. Now it’s true to say that my palate has moved on, but I reckon that the Flora and Fauna range is resting on its laurels and churning out a much inferior product to those we remember from way back. Sad, but true.

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Hi John H,

      Fair points, and I agree. When I return to the F&F range, it feels too engineered nowadays and youthful. If Diageo aren’t going to give it the necessary support then perhaps something new needs to be introduced – and not a Game of Thrones range.

      Cheers, Jason.

      1. Avatar
        Dom says:

        I have the say that the Flora and Fauna Dailuaine has been, and still is one of my favourite whiskies. Colouring aside I find it approachable and easily comparable to the Signet. After reading this is will certainly be looking at independent bottlings.

        1. Jason
          Jason says:

          Hi Dom

          I’m glad you enjoyed this distillery, it has much to offer. It is well worth exploring the independents when you can. I think you’ll find the difference is quite startling.

          Cheers, Jason.

  3. Avatar
    CRAIG says:

    The carn mor range probably offers the best value for exploring new distilleries and flavours now in my opinion.

    The price hikes on all things sherry, single cask and higher ages ultimately limit most people’s budgets to what can feel like a limited range (without options like carn mor).

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Hi Craig

      We don’t do enough of the Carn Mor range, it is good value and as you suggest offers a better route into many of the F&F distilleries with a more natural presentation.

      Cheers, Jason.

  4. Avatar
    bifter says:

    I bought the Teaninich 10 F&F recently on a jaunt to Royal Lochnagar distillery. Unlike Lochnagar, it’s not a tourist-friendly distillery and bottlings of any description are fairly rare so my interest was piqued. I was slightly disappointed though, it was fairly pedestrian and unremarkable blend fodder. However, it mellowed fairly well after opening.

    I do wish Diageo would bring back the Mortlach 16 though.

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