Late last year I reviewed the Fettercairn 12 year old which is the only affordable bottle from the new core range. Unlike so many of my peers I actually really liked it and indeed still do. The distillery were nice enough to send me a sample of the 12 year old and this 28 year old before I wrote that first review and asked for feedback on both. To their credit though I wasn’t told what to write or asked to amend anything. As it happens I have never been asked to do that but some people quite rightly are suspicious of the motives behind anything written or shared online so its best to be upfront.
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.
The 28 year old Fettercairn is a 100% ex-bourbon matured single malt which has been bottled at 42% ABV and contains artificial colouring. This is a common trait in Whyte & MacKay brands but with a bottle at this price and this age its not what I hope for. That price though is anywhere between £450 and £500 in the UK. Evidently, not something to be bought on a whim.
One additional note on that artificial colouring point though is just the quantity of colouring used. Like I said the 12 and 28 labels both have the “mit farbstoff” stamp of shame but I tried both of them side by side to compare and just look at the colour difference.
The 28 year old on the right has had quite the extra splash of E150a to help add a few hundred bucks onto the price. This is all very cynical I have to say before even trying the whisky I have preconceived notions on what market this whisky is for. That though is purely down to what I am being presented with and not some kind of anti-Fettercairn snobbery because again that 12 year old is good stuff.
Colour – E150a
Nose – a very weird and bitter nose of treacle, sour citric fruits and liquorice. Burnt sugar and just a general chemically artificial
Palate – the mouth feel isn’t good and its bitter again. Heat from chilli and lots of ginger make it a fizzy palate.
Finish – a short and disappointing finish of liquorice, artificial sweetener, bitter charred wood and highland toffee
So in the end this is a disappointing and insipid whisky which is purely about branding and profiteering. There must be better casks in the warehouse than this so I just don’t understand why this has been bottled. What did I do after I finished this whisky? I went and settled down with the £40 12 year old and relaxed. That is a fraction of the price but an order of magnitude better quantity. Lots of people will say age doesn’t mean better but this is the kind of whisky which proves the point perfectly.