Now this is interesting. Not only has it been nearly five years since the Society bottled up some Fettercairn for us, but this latest edition comes matured in what is proving to be rather the cask de jour – a 1st fill STR (shaved, toasted, recharred) wine barrique.
Nose: A strawberry malt shake starts things moving, whilst reduced sugars and sponge cake add further sweetness. Running throughout, mocha and chai latte alongside some Fettercairn ‘funk’ – wet soils, leaf mulch, hay lofts and pig sties. A strange combination, but one that works and is certainly thought-provoking. Reduction emphasises dried hay and scorched grasses, whilst adding notes of balsamic and saw dust.
Taste: Grape juice is immediate (STR anyone?!), it’s reduced and sugary and joined by a scattering of juicy red berries and bramble bush blackberries – wild and vibrant. The mid-palate adds savouriness with maple bacon, whilst addition sweetness is derived from bourbon biscuits and dark chocolate. Spicing appears during the development and extends into the back palate – cinnamon and ginger. A few drops of water and this turns into a particularly fruit-forward number with berries and wine gums adding sweetness and juiciness whilst the cask reveals charred wood and anise.
Finish: Medium and rather herbal with allspice and dried grasses alongside fading chocolate and char.
What’s most pleasing about this STR matured Fettercairn is that it has retained its distinctive character. Whilst the fruits and sugars have been dialled up from the wine cask influence, the underlying funk of the distillery’s spirit has been allowed to shine. Fettercairn is a peculiar and distinctive liquid that has historically been sadly inconsistent. This return to the Society in STR form makes me wonder if changes have been afoot at the distillery over the past decade. It’s a hit in my book. Recommended.Score: 86/100