After a couple of non whisky review articles I thought it was time to add one back into the blog. I have a couple of books from a charity shop I will be reviewing later this week but for now lets look at an entry level age stated whisky from Aberdeenshire. Last year the distillery was re-launched as a single malt brand with new labels and new bottles topping out at an eye-wateringly expensive 50 year old doomed to forever be too expensive to open.
Founded in 1825 the Fettercairn distillery is in the village of Laurencekirk in Aberdeenshire by the local landlord.
By 1830 the estate including the distillery was sold to the father of future Prime Minister William Gladstone who’s family held ownership until 1923. Since then the distillery has been mothballed for short periods but mostly working with stills increased from 2 to 4 in 1966. Currently under the ownership of Whyte & Mackay since as far back as 1973 this traditional distillery has been heavily involved in producing for blends for a long time.
As a single malt brand there has been bottles marketed officially since 2009 with quite a lot of whisky being available as an independent bottling. This is especially true today with some well aged bottles to be had for decent money. The current range includes a range of age statements all in premium packaging and being released in fairly small batches is hard to find outside the usual large online retailers.
The Fettercairn 12 Year Old is bottled at 40% ABV is probably chill filtered and probably has artificial colouring. Its available for around 45 pounds in the UK which is quite a lot and uses exclusively American Oak ex-bourbon barrels for all of its maturation. This release has been available since August 2018 and is a core range release.
Colour – orange
Nose – quite a dark and spice nose to start with. More cardamom than nutmeg or clove and then some white peppercorns. There is a woody aspect which is also sweet like sap to balance out the inherent spicy profile
Palate – Given the strength and the presentation I think the texture is pretty good. There is a good oily nature to it. Ginger and more wood spice notes present from the nose as you might expect. With time a mint note appears and then some cloves.
Finish – The finish is long and weighty. Generally the finish is heavy on spice over some soft fruit notes which come in right at the very end.
I think it would be very easy to dismiss this just on the price and the owners. I think its easy to be snobby and look at the ABV and think its another style over substance bottling.
I think that would be very wrong and while yes it is quite expensive there is also a lot of first-fill ex-bourbon barrels. Great attention to detail has gone in to provide good amounts of flavour and texture into a legal minimum strength whisky. I haven’t tried the previous core range of NAS bottles. The new range though has been positioned upmarket and in my opinion at least has the liquid quality to substantiate its claim there. I like it and if I am honest I wasn’t sure going into this that I would.