Fettercairn has recently been Dalmorized. That means they’ve asked The Nose to highlight some of their best whiskies, specifically at high ages. The classic Dalmore recipe of finishing in Gonzalez Byass casks and Port casks has been applied, as well as an overall (steep) increase in price.
We’ll be trying the new Fettercairn 28 Year Old (€ 600), the Fettercairn 40 Year Old (€ 3500) and Fettercairn 50 Year Old (over € 11.000).
Fettercairn 28 yo
(42%, OB 2018, ex-bourbon casks)
Nose: a dusty, coppery start. Then some shy fruity notes: slightly overdue pineapple in syrup at first, later also nicer apricots and melon. A little ginger, liquorice and caraway seeds. Vegetal notes. Maybe a wee little cardboard too. Not very classic.
Mouth: weakish, and again with a strange combination of flavours. Apricots yoghurt, waxy notes and honey. Fermenting fruits. Stale beer. Then walnuts and the bitterness of chestnuts. A funky perfumy / synthetic edge as well.
Finish: not too long, with toffee and hints of oak.
We move over to the 40 Year Old, distilled 23rd of December 1977. It spent the final few years in a Gonzalez Byass Apostoles Palo Cortado cask #6 (which is technically not a Palo Cortado but a Medium sherry as it is sweetened with a little Pedro Ximénez).
Fettercairn 40 yo 1977 (48,9%, OB 2018, ex-bourbon barrels + Apostoles finish)
Nose: sweet Vishnu, so much better. Blood oranges, toffee apples, lacquered furniture, old leather bound books, hints of blackberries. Candied ginger. Subtle mint, light touches of chocolate and tobacco.
Mouth: quite citrusy, with an aromatic woody element, ginger cake and rum soaked raisins. Nutmeg. A hint of sourness (grapefruits) and fruit teas. Just a subtle tannic note as well as some leathery notes and eucalyptus.
Finish: long, spiced, with nutty notes, orange peel and fruit tea.
An significant leap forward, although the palate does show its age with tannins and a woody sourness creeping in. If anything this proves the potential of the distillery at a high age. Also available from The Whisky Exchange.
The new headliner is the Fettercairn 50 Years, distilled 11th June 1966. It spent the final few years in a Tawny Port cask #1.
Fettercairn 50 yo 1966 (47,9%, OB 2018, ex-bourbon barrels + Tawny Port finish)
Nose: no kidding, this is perfect. Heering Cherry liqueur (big time), thick molasses, a good dose of Port (but I would say Ruby) and cassis syrup. Chocolate and stewed plums. Also brighter fruits, like fresh pineapple and caramelized apple. Citrus peel. A hint of coconut cream too? Absolutely lovely.
Mouth: cherries and plums again, blackcurrants, followed by drier notes like tobacco leaves, roasted nuts and nutmeg. Raisins. Hints of liquorice and a touch of balsamic syrup. Burnt Demerara sugar and a bit of oak char. Like in the 40 Year Old, the oak is present, but more in the form of spicy notes rather than sour oak juice, so it feels more natural.
Finish: long, on earthy, spicy sandalwood, but with a great flash of tropical fruits (passion fruit, pink grapefruit).
This is impressive. You can get this one from La Maison du Whisky.
Bottom line: Fettercairn is relaunched with a slightly quirky line-up. The 12 year-old base expression is reasonably priced and quite good. It is worth a try for its gentle fruity character. The 28 Year Old is very funky, forget about that one.
The 40 Year Old and especially the 50 Year Old are excellent, they could really change your idea of a lesser known distillery like Fettercairn, but who is going to try them at this price? Maybe like Mortlach they’ll need a second relaunch to find a sweet spot in the market.