Blair Athol 12 Year Old - Flora and Fauna (70cl, 43%)
Following on from the successful introduction of the Classic Malts range in 1988 (at the time only six expressions), United Distillers sought to build on this by releasing a further 22 single malts in 1991. These became affectionately known as the Flora & Fauna series, a term coined by whisky writer, Michael Jackson, in reference to their labels. The range showcased the lesser-seen distilleries from the company’s extensive portfolio at the time, with the intent of using collective branding to help them raise each other’s profiles. Despite four further additions in 2001, only a handful of these are still permanent distillery bottlings, making it a highly collectible series.
Blair Athol distillery is one of Scotland's oldest, dating back into the late 18th century. Its modern story begins when it was closed down by Peter Mackenzie in 1932, and was purchased by Arthur Bell & Sons the following year. Distilling recommenced in 1949, and with Blair Athol malt at its heart, Bell's became one of the world's best-selling whiskies. Despite its importance to the blend, Blair Athol was also bottled as a single malt under the Bell's banner in the 1970s and 1980s. New owners, Guinness, were less interested in this when they took over in 1985, but their subsequent iteration, United Distillers, brought a back distillery bottling with this Flora & Fauna release. Despite its popularity, Blair Athol has yet to be bottled under its own single malt brand. Other official bottlings from the Diageo era are very rare too.