Fable is a new ‘far from ordinary’ brand which combines whisky and story-telling. Kudos for the visual presentation, which revolves around moody, hand-drawn black and white illustrations and an uncommon bottle shape. Bottlings are presented as chapters with a specific title.
The whisky itself reads as a catalogue of Diageo’s malts. There’s Dailuaine, Benrinnes, Linkwood, Caol Ila and Mannochmore, all 12 years of age and apparently matured in bourbon casks. Sounds like an indie Flora & Fauna selection, isn’t it?
They seem to have bought multiple casks from each – Chapters three, four and five are already on Whiskybase, all coming from sister casks.
Mannochmore 12 yo 2008 (55,4%, Fable ‘The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay – Chapter 1’ 2021, hogshead #7040, 283 btl.)
Nose: clean and mildly fruity. Honeydew melon and cider apples. Then rather grassy notes and wet wool, as well as lemon juice and some floral overtones. I got a vegetal touch and leaven as well, but these faded. Grainy hints as well. Slightly raw.
Mouth: more cereal galore, with bready grains, yeasty notes and porridge. Green apple and truckloads of lemons. A little shortbread. Flat ale. A little chalk maybe. White pepper. Still some vegetal / leafy touches.
Finish: medium, with more grains, lemons and a touch of pencil wood.
I was hoping for a light and fruity dram, but that didn’t turn out as expected. Very much in line with the Mannochmore Flora & Fauna bottling actually, but I’m not the biggest fan of these yeasty and grainy whiskies.
Benrinnes 12 yo 2008 (58,4%, Fable ‘The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay – Chapter 1’ 2021, hogshead #305966, 255 btl.)
Nose: a similar style, quite naked and close to the raw ingredients. That means lager beer, brioche dough and muesli, with hints of greengages, lemon and some melon sweetness. Grassy touches. Lanoline. A dab of plaster.
Mouth: sweet, slightly tense, with lemons and grapefruits, hints of rhubarb and a faint green and zesty edge. Grassy notes and chalk. A wee meaty, and just like the Mannochmore it’s fairly raw. Did they experiment with concrete maturation? It is starting to become a common thread for this series.
Finish: long and strong, with a hint of custard now but still a lot of green and slightly spirity character.
Most of the young Benrinnes we’ve seen had some kind of finish or wine cask influence. This shows the naked spirit, which is high quality, but still a little narrow. Available from Whiskay among others.
Dailuaine 12 yo 2008 (54,8%, Fable ‘The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay – Chapter 1’ 2021, hogshead #307138, 267 btl.)
Nose: slightly nuttier, with peanuts and almonds, as well as some caramelized hints. Kellog’s Smacks. Hints of vanilla and bananas. Porridge and just a hint of (natural) sulphur. Raw wool. A subtle waxy touch as well.
Mouth: honeyed cereals, nougat and an earthy touch. Apples, a bit of white pepper and hints of pine nuts. Lemon zest and mineral notes. Whiffs of Tripel beers. Grassy notes, vegetal oils and paraffin as well.
Finish: long and vertical but with a fatty touch. Bread, grapefruit and grass.
A perfectly fine base malt again, with a slightly edgy profile that comes surprisingly close to a young Springbank for instance. We’re seeing improvement here, but as a series a bit more diversity would have been welcome. Available from Whiskay for instance.
Caol Ila 12 yo 2009 (56,8%, Fable ‘The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay – Chapter 1’ 2021, hogshead #309952, 294 btl.)
Nose: Caol Ila is always crystal clean and this is no different. Cold ashes, grass and lemons, porridge. Fisherman’s rope. Beach pebbles, putty and a hint of sea air. Oysters. Wet wool. There are definitely similarities with the previous whiskies, only this time it’s peated.
Mouth: lemon juice, mezcal, brine and ink. Fat peat. White pepper. Smoked grapefruits. Kippers and chalk. Salted almonds. A powerful, vertical dram, which seems to be the house style, but the peat adds complexity even at a modest age.
Finish: long, sharp as a knife, briney, lemony. Perfectly cut and chiselled.
Clean, focused and powerful. Caol Ila is one of these distilleries that doesn’t need a cask, so to speak. Perfectly reliable, no complaints whatsoever expect for the price, which is higher than with other bottlers. Available from Whiskay for instance.
Want more? Check my new review of eleven Fable whisky releases.