The new Fettercairn 40 year old was distilled on the 23rd December 1977 and aged in American white oak ex-bourbon casks. It has been finished for an unspecified amount of time in an apostoles sherry cask. Apostoles is a type of sherry from Gonzales Byass that is designated at VORS: Vinum Optimum Rare Signatum – or Very Old Rare Sherry. Only sherry casks 30 years or older can bear this designation.
The bottling, Fettercairn’s second OB 40 year old, was released in mid-August 2018. It’s delivered at 48.9% ABV and comes with a £3000 price tag – considerably higher than many well-established, highly regarded 40 year old expressions (e.g. HP40).
Nose: Intense rich fruits – peach, apricot and orange peels are joined by mango and guava tropicalness. Quite lovely. Custard cream biscuits, cacao nibs, and plenty of marzipan provide lovely supporting aromas. Running throughout – dusty old books, leather armchairs, tobacco boxes and tons of polished antique wood panelling. Deep and cavernous – pretty exceptionally stuff. Reduction introduces bakery notes – biscuits and cookie dough.
Taste: Polished wood is up first – lacquered to a mirror glaze. Super. Fruits follow with tons of orange – peels, zest, juice and well-aged liqueur – and a good scattering of heavily reduced hedgerow berries. Tobacco and leather join the party in the mid-palate – both pronounced, and refined. As the development progresses, it becomes more tea-like, stepped, spiced (with pepper) and bitter with high cacao solid chocolate. Water softens things up superbly with tinned topical fruits (pineapple and mango) and some interesting herbs and spices coming to the fore – green tea, clove and cinnamon.
Finish: Long with dusty wood spices, oranges and chocolate crumb.
At 40 years of age and £3000 in price, you’d rightfully expect Fettercairn 40 year old to be excellent – thankfully it is. There’s as much wood as you’d imagine from 40 years of maturation, but its intensely polished, refined and highly aromatic and fits wonderfully with defined fruitiness and oodles of depth. The ABV is masterfully selected to be perfectly drinkable as is, but with plenty of scope for dilution should you fancy experimenting (which, believe me, feels almost sacrilegious). As with all very well-aged whiskies, it’s a very good idea to show this liquid the respect it deserves – at least 30 minutes of resting. Quite quite lovely.
Review sample provided by Fettercairn