Tag Archive: Fettercairn


Independent Spirit Fettercairn

Independent Spirit: Fettercairn (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 7 Year: 56.2% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold.

Viscosity: Very slow, medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Very viscous, jelly like, alcohol. Lemon curd. Apple pie. Heather. Custard slices. Pepper. Water brings light oak, vanilla, and a smoother character. More water brings a fresh lemon and citrus mash-up and apricot.

Body: Initially smooth then ramps to burning warmth. Oaken. Apples. Water brings lots more apples, pepper. More water brings custard, light strawberry, tinned tropical fruit, apricot and lemon sorbet. Later apple pie with sugar and pineapple jelly.

Finish: Oak. Warming and numbing. Pepper. Water brings light treacle, soft fudge and malt drinks. More water adds heather, strawberry softness, tropical fruit and apricot.

Conclusion: Ok, neat this is freaking rocket fuel. It is vodka jelly like, oh my god shouting level strong. Yet, for those of you who have already read the background, you know that I helped pick it being released at this abv. What is up with that? I mean, it is young at seven years, and 56.2% abv, surely that is a terrible plan? Why would I recommend that?

Well, I did so because of the depth you can get from this with some water play to find your sweet spot. Even neat there are apple hints, pepper notes and sweet backing against lemon curd. Ok admittedly that is rapidly lost behind the alcohol burn, but is a hint to the fact that there are some big flavours here. Tellingly, when I first tried it blind, I thought that it could be calvados or some other apple brandy cask finished. It really shines with soft, sweet apple notes in a fashion that usually comes from that kind of cask ageing. I really wanted that unusual character to be preserved and not lost to a lower abv expression.

Now, neat this is is interesting for a couple of sips, but seriously don’t keep drinking it like that or you will kill your taste-buds. This thing can take a metric shitload of water – in fact it is probably the only whisky I have tried that can take so much water that I actual regret the poor quality of water around here as the flavour of the whisky is still good, but I can feel the elements of the hard water coming through. I should invest in a water filter again really.

Anyway, with a little water you have an intense, calvados aged feeling, custard sweet, peppery whisky. With more water it finally hits its stride. There comes out a huge amount of fruit – from subtle strawberry to apricot, to the expected tropical fruit influences of bourbon ageing. During this it never loses that sweet apple taste that first made it appeal to me. You have to add a mad amount of water before that vanishes. It is a serious wave of flavour and here it is a very enjoyable, very bright, very fruity whisky.

Now, it never stops being a young whisky, and showing that younger character – and even with a wealth of water here is a slight alcohol edge to it. So, with water it is still a slightly rough edged one, and without water very rough edged, but you get a whisky that mixes the exuberant fruitiness of a young whisky with the illusion of calvados ageing, and the subtle pepperyness of an older whisky. It is a rough edged gem, but one I enjoy examining.

Background: Welcome, to another tasting note I will confess a possible bias warning to. When Independent Spirit were trying to decide what strength this should be bottled at, I assisted with some tastings to give my opinion. We went with this cask strength in the end. So, yea possible bias. This is one of 50 bottles of this cask strength whisky available that was distilled in 2009 and bottled 2016. This was drunk while listening to the utterly terrifying soundtrack from “It Follows”, I was hoping to counter my possible bias by creating an acoustic counterpoint of potential dread. Good movie as well BTW, a very unsettling, creepy horror film.

Fettercairn Fior

Fettercairn: Fior (Scottish Highland SIngle Malt Whisky: 42% ABV)

Visual: Reddened gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Mild hairy gooseberry. Musky. Shortbread. Slight sour grapefruit. Pencil shavings. Almonds.

Body: Thick mouthfeel. Sour berries and grapes. White grapes. Slightly oily. Light trifle and brandy cream. Sugared almonds. Golden syrup. Vanilla. Water makes more bourbon like. Rye crackers.

Finish: Creamy. Oily mouthfeel. Almonds and marzipan. Musty berries. Water adds rye cracker notes.

Conclusion: Subtle whisky can start off feeling a bit empty for me, and take time to build up before I start to notice the notes within. Which can mean they have weak first impressions. I blame Octomore. Anyway, that is my way of saying this is quite the gentle and subtle whisky.

Oddly for a subtle whisky it has a real thick mouthfeel, so when it initially felt empty within it was like I was getting pure texture sensation and nothing else. Kind of like some of the more subtle sashimi I have tried in that regard actually.

Then it starts to rise, tart, musky, yet still subtle grapes – then sherried trifle and brandy cream that starts out low but rising, then finally breaks through the soon to be omnipresent almonds and marzipan character that finally defines this.

It is strange, by the end I cannot imagine the light whisky I first encountered as it has so filled that flavour vacuum with the new sensations. Never harsh, but now full of flavour. I can’t speak much on how water influenced it – I had nearly finished the measure by the time the full flavour came into play so I only had a little room to experiment. It seems to keep fairly similar, but with a few bourbon like notes added in.

So, in the end, how do I feel on this? I’d have to take longer to give a proper conclusion but for now I’d say as long as you are willing to let this bed in for a while then it will reward you with a surprisingly full and easy going whisky. If you are in a rush – look elsewhere.

Background: *ahem again and again* “Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Masters Of Malt Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!”. Not had much Fettercairn before, this seems to be their new main bottling and is a lot darker than I remember Fettercairn being. Not much to add, was listening to more of the Guilty Gear XX soundtrack. Despite never having played the game. Ever

Signatory Vintage: The Un-chillfiltered Collection Fettercairn 1996 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 14 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very clear grain.

Viscosity: Very slow thin puckering and streaks.

Nose: Lime sorbet, grain and vanilla. Slight alcohol burn.  Very clean. Cheesecake, strawberry.  Water makes more floral bringing out heather.

Body: Meaty, with vanilla and toffee. Strawberry hints. Beef slices.  Water lightens the meat and makes more toffee and custard flavoured. Adds strawberry and a tinge of lime.

Finish: Beef slices and beef crisp dusting. Milk chocolate and slight bitter chocolate. Water makes lime and orange elements come out.

Conclusion: This carries a lot more weight than I remember my last (and only) sampling of Fettercairn having. Without water it has a nice meaty weight body which was not something I was expecting.  This doesn’t affect the favour that much, it is a definite smooth lime and sweet vanilla entity, but it does give it a bit of extra weight and grip.

The combination of extra weight and fresh cutting flavour makes for a surprisingly good combo. It weakens a bit with water, but still remains competent, so much so that I think preference for with or without water will be a mater of personal taste for most with this one.  While the whisky does not have the wide range that I tend to look for, it does work well at giving heft to the sorbet style flavours that can often be somewhat ethereal and badly defined.

A bit too much water can push it to being slightly heather and floral dominated, losing some of the flavour. Too little and it has a just slightly burning influence. There is a decent range between those two extremes though and even the extremes have their advantages.  Generally it is a pleasant easy drinking whisky, with a bit more freshness and weight than usual.

A nice Fettercairn expression, for the little experience I have of them. Not a favourite whisky but well balanced.

Background: Drunk at the tasting rooms. I’ve only encountered Fettercairn once before, in a bar while going on a distillery tour around Scotland. It didn’t make a huge impression then I have to admit. Then again I was kind of on whisky overdose during that holiday for some reason.   As the name suggests this hasn’t been chill filtered, this means it goes slightly cloudy when cold or when water is added, more importantly it means that is hasn’t been through a process which removes some of the elements that make up the flavours of the whisky.

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