Ferg & Harris. Seemingly just a small independent bottler that’s sparingly released single malt whiskies over the past few years. Some high-end and very expensive, others more affordable, such as today’s Speyside Single Malt 12 Years, which was finished in first-fill PX sherry hogsheads.
To me, it’s the people that elevate whisky to a new level. They make it a more interesting drink than it otherwise might’ve been. And I suppose that goes for all foodstuffs. Bread tastes nicer when you like visiting your baker. Veggies are better if you know the farmer and understand their passion. The same principle applies to whisky. Even to independent bottlers, companies that generally aren’t even directly involved in the actual production of whisky.
Which brings me to my question: who are the people that run Ferg & Harris? There’s some general information on this company’s website about how quality is paramount (it better be) and that their tight-knit team of whisky connoisseurs are smitten with single malts (which, I’d hope so). But there’s really nothing that makes them stand out. Or not to me at least.
Only in the website’s terms is there mention of a parent company in Edinburgh, called Young Spirits. Not a clickable link, mind you. Just a brief mention. And only after visiting the Young Spirits website did I find an About Us section.
There’s a picture of the founders, John Ferguson and Alex Harrison. They look like nice chaps. There are pictures of other nameless people. They all seem to be enjoying themselves. And there’s a blog article by their spirits expert, Andrew Wilson. Maybe I’ll approach them for an interview sometime. I’m sure they have some interesting insights to share. But for now, I’m left with more questions than answers.
As an aside, I’ve often written that colour is not important. Or let me rephrase that. Colour is not an indicator of quality. And yet, much like many of you, I can’t help but be enticed by a whisky’s colour. Especially ones with a slightly darker hue. Honestly, I think Ferg & Harris’ Speyside Single Malt 12 Years looks appealing as f*ck. But I’m not sure I can exactly pinpoint why that is.
I’ve always thought of myself as sort of an equal-opportunity whisky person. In this case, meaning that I don’t have a very outspoken preference for one style over the other. I have this view of myself as someone who enjoys ex-bourbon cask whiskies as much as ex-sherry cask whiskies. But I’ve also just concluded that I’m sort of inherently drawn towards darker whiskies. Have I been lying to myself this entire time? I surely hope not.
Finally, before we get on with tasting notes, I’d like to highlight how I got in possession of a sample of the Speyside Single Malt 12 Years by Ferg & Harris. It was very kindly shared with me by Martijn van Opstal of Dram1. A Dutch blogger relatively new on the scene, but now also an entrepeneur.
This 12-year-old Speysider is part of his first Explorer Pack. The plan is to collaborate with bars and restaurants to expand their whisky offerings through these packs. I think his first selection is inspiring, certainly not whiskies you’ll generally find in Dutch hospitality businesses. Good luck, Martijn!
Speyside Single Malt 12 Years (55.7%, Ferg & Harris, 2022)
Nose: Certainly a sweet, almost perfumed first impression. Some fragrant floral notes with but also hints of dates, caramel-glazed apples and raisins, as well as fresh red berries. A touch of leather, oak shavings and nutmeg too. Taste: Such sweetness, but without any overtly sticky mouthfeel. Gentle oak spices with some black pepper in the background, but also quit nutty. Plenty of cacao and dried fruits too. And just a tinge of honey, mint and plums. Finish: Medium length. Lingering spices, somewhat herbal, and oak tannins.
It is quite polished at times, but it also isn't. The nose seems nicely integrated, but there are some rougher edges on the palate that sort of confirm why this whisky might've needed a finish. Solid stuff, but nothing to get super excited about.