Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Have just tried ... Fettercairn 1824 12 years old

Fettercairn is a distillery located in the eastern Highland region of Scotland, between the cities of Aberdeen and Dundee. It was founded in 1824 by Sir Alexander Ramsey and is currently owned by Whyte & Mackay, who in turn are part of the larger United Spirits group. The original name of the distillery and its whisky was Old Fettercairn and this only changed to Fettercairn in 2002, when Whyte & Mackay revamped the brand and its packaging.

Fettercairn contributes greatly to Whyte & Mackay’s popular blended whisky range. The distillery’s annual production capacity is 2.3 million litres and as a result, only one single malt is regularly released – this Fettercairn 1824 at 12 years of age (so named due to the distillery’s founding date). Other older limited edition versions occasionally appear, as do some independent bottlings. Both are rare however. The 1824 can be found in specialist whisky retailers and should cost £25-30 a bottle.

This Fettercairn 1824 12 years old is dark golden amber in colour and the nose shows a clear influence of sherry cask maturation. There is a pleasant mix of dried fruits (think of raisins, candied peel and prunes), nuts (imagine almonds) and toffee. It seems sweet but there are some other slightly more bitter notes in there as well – cereal husks, dark woody oak and dried grasses (think of hay). The nose gives the impression that the whisky will be rich but it proves not to be the case on the palate. It feels light and quite thin in the mouth but still has an interesting combination of characteristics – the dried fruit, nuts, toffee, cereals, wood and grassiness from the nose plus a touch of spicy pepperiness (imagine white pepper) and just a whiff of bonfire smoke (this is slightly sulphuric and reminiscent of burning logs). The finish is dry with the nuttiness and a distinct spiciness prominent (this is now more like a woody spice, such as cinnamon or nutmeg, rather than pepper). It turns quite woody and bitter at the very end.

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