Never let it be said that I don’t get round to doing things eventually. Almost a year after attending the re-launch of the Fettercairn brand I’m finally getting round to some more comprehensive notes…
I have noted in the past that I was never a big fan of previous official Fettercairn releases (Fasque and Fior) but have been reasonably impressed by a distillery exclusive and several independent bottlings.
I’m not going to ramble too much about the brand here as it would really be repeating myself however you can catch up on my previous Fettercairn reviews / ramblings here.
Anyway, on to the new and refreshed Fettercairn. Today will feature the 12 and 28 year old expressions.
Fettercairn 12yo, Single Malt, Highland, OB, 40%abv (press sample)
The nose is bursting with fruit. Green apples, apricots and syrupy peaches. There is a milk chocolate note here too alongside some faint toasted oak, blood oranges and wisps of wet tobacco.
The palate is again fruity with some balance to the apricots and pineapples given by some gooseberry jam which leads a sweet / sharp counterpoint. The oranges are back but they are definitely past ripe, giving a gentle must – not a bad thing. It does feel a little thin in the mouth but there is always a trade off in core expressions between maintaining a low abv for approachability which can sometimes be to its detriment elsewhere.
The finish is where the fruit fades and the wood emerges, a mix of toasted oak and a faint twist of green wood. Touches of pepper and a slight ginger element round off a slightly spiced finish.
I’ll admit to being reasonably impressed by this. Admittedly it is a low bar they set themselves with Fasque and Fior as a comparison. Good to see an emergence of spirit character.
Price point wise it is certainly at the higher end of the 12 year old bracket.
Fettercairn 28yo, Single Malt, Highland, OB, 42%abv (press sample)
On the nose it is clear that this is a different animal to the 12. There is a similar fruitiness but it is a mix of the tropical fruits we found before but with added elements of dark fruits combined with touches of hardwood. There are a few over ripened oranges and handfuls of crushed nuts. After a while damp tobacco starts to waft subtly underneath.
The palate is quite dry and spiced. Really quite tannic with more wood increasing the dryness in the mouth. There is a curious interplay between the drying wood and some sweet vanilla underneath some strong coffee notes. There is a sharpness from a grapefruit note but this is tamed by increasing amounts of brown sugar grilled on top.
There is a sweetness that emerges on the finish as we start to get elements of toffee and fruitcake dusted in powdered sugar alongside some quite well spiced gingerbread.
I’d suggest that there is a slight bias towards the nose here, the palate and finish aren’t quite as deep or as interesting.
There is no denying that at almost £500 this is very, very expensive indeed. There are not many other 28 year old whiskies that cost more (to be honest there aren’t many 28 year old whiskies to compare with, such is their choice of number). Laphroaig 28 is one of the few at this price.
Out of the two the 28 is the much more interesting to drink but it isn’t without its flaws and the cost is far too prohibitive to give it mass appeal. I’d recommend trying the 12 as is a definite paradigm shifter for the brand as it does the distillery more justice that previously released expressions, showcasing its fruitier and lighter side.
There is a bit of an obvious gap between the 12 and 28 – not just in age but in price point also. It was suggested upon launch that there would be something released to fill that gap. Still no sign of anything but I’d be intrigued to see a cask strength expression in the vein of Aberlour A’bunadh or Glenrothes Whisky Makers Cut.
You can find more of my tasting notes in the Amateur Drammers Archives.
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