For a long time, Fettercairn wasn't exactly a whisky folk would queue up to buy. It always seemed such an overlooked single malt - by its owners, that is - with token releases such as the non-age statement Fasque and Fior expressions. But otherwise, the distillery's output seemed destined simply for blends or supermarket own brand single malts. I remember buying a bottle of Tesco's Finest Highland Single Malt for a tasting a number of years ago and the label was adorned with Richard Paterson's signature. The consensus amongst participants was that this was probably Fettercairn.
The Fettercairn brand has had a revamp over the last couple of years. Yes, the packaging looks way better - much more stylish. But the contents of the bottle are always more important; most of you reading this would much prefer substance over style rather than the other way round. Amongst the new releases came the 12 Years expression. This is a solid sipper and, although bottled at 40% abv, it retails at around the £38 mark. A little more than the average 12 years single malt but not that much. The 22 Years is such a delicate and elegant whisky but the price tag, unfortunately, isn't quite so delicate (retailing at around £170). The Warehouse 2 Batch 1 proved to be a winner during a blind tasting with the Edinburgh Whisky Group and I'm looking forward to tasting the recently released Batch 2 which will feature in a future review. All of this just goes to show what can be achieved now that Fettercairn has been given a new focus and some well deserved attention.
Some Fettercairn releases I've tried of late which have been excellent have been independently bottled, single cask, cask strength expressions. The recent Infrequent Flyers and Cadenhead's bottlings are just two which quickly come to mind. So, this sample from cask #883 proved to be an interesting one to taste during the recent 'Friends of Fettercairn' tasting with Andrew Lennie. Distilled in February 2008 and drawn in July this year, this whisky hasn't been bottled as a release:
Nose: initial notes of Black Forest gâteau. There's a hint of aniseed in the background throughout. After a while, there's a slight damp wood note developing in the glass followed by hints of strawberry jam and undiluted Ribena. Those damp wood notes become more like pencil sharpenings after a while. This has a very inviting nose and is extremely well balanced.
Palate: the texture is really silky. There are initial notes of blackcurrant jam followed by dark, cherry flavoured chocolate. There's a slight herbal note after a while and then the aniseed note from the nose appears in to the finish. Fresh ginger appears half way through developing in to more of a stem ginger covered in dark chocolate note. There's also a subtle hint of marzipan throughout.
Overall: all I can say is that I hope this is released. Such a well balanced whisky with plenty of delicious dark fruit flavoured chocolate notes; this is a cracking dram.
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