The Whisky Tasting Club

Four Fettercairn tastings

Few distilleries have attracted so much negative press as Fettercairn. But owner Whyte & Mackay is replacing its existing expressions with a new mainstream brand  and three vintages. They are fully repackaged and they are going to be on sale any time soon.

So here are my tasting notes.

  • Fior     42%

Nose: A rustic and grungey smokiness early on suggests this is a big boy whisky, but it’s followed by bitter orange, cocoa, walnut whip and burnt treacle. Different and intriguing.

Palate: Full, rich and savoury with a toasty, oaky and with a savoury heart. There’s some distinctive citrus here, dominated by orange but with some peach, and traces of dark mint chocolate.

Finish:  Medium long, with some citrus fruit, treacle toffee, salt and spice.

available for £36.50 from Single Malts Direct

  • Fettercairn 24 year old 44.4%

Nose: Early on a mix of grape, barley and hot buttered doughball, but with time the heart of the malt is made up of soft pear and sweet lime, offset by Thai spices.

Palate: Surprisingly elegant and dignified, with a clean and fresh fruit bowl of flavours over a peaty carpet. Green apple and pear are in the mix.

Finish: Medium long, with savoury notes, spices and fruit  – but not necessarily in that order.

£114.95 from the Whisky Shop Dufftown and also from Single Malts Direct

  • Fettercairn 30 year old    43.3%

Nose: Delightful, complex and evolving – rich and plumy, orange rind marmalade, ripe apricot and a smorgasbord of kitchen pantry spices. There’s a touch of sweet melon and pineapple there, too.

Palate: Crystallised pineapple, some grapefruit and melon, and there’s a delightful liquorice flourish, all over a gentle and controlled pepper and peat base.

Finish: Savoury, but with plenty of fruit, especially lime and yellow citrus fruits.

£183.99 from Single Malts Direct

  • Fettercairn 40 year old  40%

Nose: A classic rich sherry nose, with orange, stewed red berries and nutmeg. Soft, sweet and rounded.

Palate: A gentle old man but with plenty of evidence of a feistiness at its heart. Nor particularly full in the mouth, and there’s  degree of frailty to it, but it’s mix of grapefruit, mandarin, ginger, raisins and milk chocolate is charming and irresistible.

Finish: Medium, fresh, clean, with grapefruit marmalade on crispy toast. Very moreish.

£767 from Single Malts Direct

All prices advertised at the time of publishing (28/7/2010) and obviously subject to change and availablity (ed.)

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  • Can anyone else hear the same hollow booms and scratchings from within Scapa’s crypt? Don’t change the whisky, just charge more for it?
    I should say that I have visited Fettercairn distillery and it is a lovely place; I wasn’t put off by the dram, either, and Richard Paterson’s genius should never be in doubt (and doubtless there is a different recipe to the old 1824 behind this new range), but can a little-known (and much-maligned) distillery really raise its stars alongside the iconic names with an NAS bottling at a cost of £37? Being no marketing or business guru, I must confess that I don’t know how else it can be done, although the repackage will surely help. Fettercairn has moved with the times in this regard.
    However, at £767 for the 40YO vintage, it is only a tenner less than Highland Park at the same age and almost three times as much as the equivalent Glenfarclas (quoted from Master of Malt). I’ll wait for the whisky journos to hand out their words of praise before advancing my cash.

  • its a bit rich isnt it? Seems there is massive price inflation going on. Ardbeg can get away with it I suppose because of their cult following (Did I really pay £80 for a NAS supernova?) but Fettercairn? Seems unlikely to sell well imo, especially considering they have absolutely no web presence at all, how will they market it?

    I’ve only tasted the Fior and was not that impressed.

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