ABV: 48.6% Distillery: Fettercairn Bottler: That Boutique-y Whisky Company Region: Highlands
The 10th of December delivered a Boutique-y whisky I’ve been looking forward to trying in the form of Fettercairn 21 year old Batch 3. I recently joined an online tasting of the distillery’s new and revitalised core range (which I’ll be telling you all about towards the end of the month – it includes the single most expensive bottling I’ve reviewed to date), but found it strange that the decision has been made to jump from the introductory 12 year old, all the way up to a 28 year old at an eye-watering £500. As such, if you’re wanting to explore Fettercairn deeper, chances are you’re still looking to independent bottlers to help facilitate.
It’s fair (perhaps even charitable) to say that my experiences with Fettercairn to date have been mixed. The distillery has offered up some of the strangest Scotch whiskies I’ve ever sampled – I’ve found a few to be almost revelatory, with textures and mouthfeels I’ve not experienced anywhere else. And at the other end of the spectrum - flawed offerings tasting somewhere in between oak juice and playdoh. None of these experiences have really led me to conclude what Fettercairn’s house style actually is, but they’ve all reinforced a certain sense of masochism, that I’m always eager to try more of it. Strange whisky. Strange Matt.
Boutique-y latest batch of Fettercairn was released back in May of this year. It’s the first from this distillery to be adorned with an age-statement and comes delivered at 48.6% ABV. 669 bottles were produced for this batch, and it’s still available for £67.95 from Master of Malt.
Nose: Orchard (apple and pear) fruits, part fresh, part cooked into pies and crumbles. In the background some grapefruit tartness and interesting aspirin-like minerality. Reduction provides some hints as to the length of maturation with a touch of lemony polish and orange liqueur. All quite simple, but very pleasant all the same.
Taste: Fruit-forward again – and more expansive than the nose – orchard fruits, stone fruits and plenty of citrus – demi-sweet, quite sharp peels and pith. There’s a nice journeying development here, the mid-palate introducing pronounced high quality creamy vanilla toffee, before heading back to tartness with a back-palate that leads on grapefruit and steeliness. A few drops of water adds soft buttery pastries whilst amping up the vanilla toffee even further – it’s less of a journey, but there’s some good definition here.
Finish: Medium, ex-bourbon focussed (vanilla and overt oak) with dusty ginger and some damp dunnage floors.
Boutique-y’s latest Fettercairn doesn’t feel like it’s been subjected to two decades of maturation. For the most part, this is a fairly simplistic selection of ‘standard’ ex-bourbon aromas and flavours. However, there’s a good integration between spirit and wood, a characterful palate development and no odd funkiness (which I find can often pervade mid-aged Fettercairns). Straight-forward doesn’t mean unenjoyable.
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