Fettercairn 12 Years Old (2019)
Fettercairn relaunched their range last year and seeing as the distillery has the same owners as the über-premium Dalmore, it should come as no surprise that the new Fettercairn are quite expensive. The only affordable whisky is an entry-level Fettercairn 12 Years Old, which has matured in standard American oak bourbon casks and is also not exactly cheap at a price north of 40 quid.
In short, there’s much to dislike on the surface. But Fettercairn is actually an interesting distillery that is high on the list of places I’ve yet to visit. It’s just a tad different, which is exactly what I’m interested in after dozens of distillery visits — memories of some of them are even starting to blend into one another.
For instance, Fettercairn has old soap grinders on the side of the stills, once used to prevent the stills from boiling over. The necks of the pot stills are water-cooled, meaning there’s a thin layer of water covering the outside of the stills. Finally, Fettercairn used to have stainless steel condensors, rarely seen in Scottish whisky distilleries. They were replaced by copper ones in 2009, but that also means the stainless steel condensors were used to distil the spirit used to create the Fettercairn 12 Years Old.
So you see, Fettercairn does have some interesting quirks. I hope they translate to the liquid.
Fettercairn 12 Years Old (40%, OB, 2019)
Nose: Very sweet with notes of marzipan and bubblegum paving the way for apricot, caramel and vanilla custard. A touch of oak shavings, but very subtle.
Taste: Fairly creamy and surprisingly spicy (clove and pepper), with a hint of breakfast cereal. A hint of bitter orange peel, as well as charred oak and vanilla. A touch of cappuccino.
Finish: Slightly herbacious. The spices and bitterness leave an impression.
Not bad, but far from a whisky that leaves me wanting more. If this is supposed to lure people into buying the overpriced older expressions of Fettercairn, such as the 500 pound 28-year-old, then I’m afraid that’s not going to happen.
Photo: The Whisky Exchange
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.