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Whisky Reviews

Fettercairn 2006 Single Malt Scotch, Malt Grain & Cane, 16 Years Old, Barbados Rum Cask Finish, 54.7% ABV

“I love looking at old Bruce Lee photographs, and I wish there were more.”

– Russel Wong, on his motivation to pursue timelessness in photography.

 

Russel Wong is Singapore's very own Hollywood darling behind the camera from the 2000s. From capturing the smoulders of Tom Cruise and Richard Gere, to the intensity of the young Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fatt and Ken Watanabe, Russel’s star-studded portfolio has graced the covers of TIME and The New York Times, and for good reason. Clients from LA to New York are particularly fond of Russel’s ability to capture stardom with an ‘elusive’ Asian charm.

The prolific celebrity photographer is himself long time friends with the likes of Michelle Yeoh, who recently took home an Oscar's, as well as the beloved chef and documentary host, Anthony Bourdain.

 

(Source: Russel Wong)

 

Singaporean indie bottler Malt, Grain & Cane (MGC) has dropped another edition to their purple-themed Kyoto Murasaki (or KyoMurasaki) series, named in reference to the colour Kyoto Purple. This series is a joint effort with Rum & Whisky Kyoto, The Swan Song, D. Bespoke, Miles Whisky Bar and Rudder Ltd and 88 Bamboo (that's us 😉).

 

 

Since MGC's founder is a big art lover, every bottle from MGC features artwork from prominent Asian artists. For the KyoMurasaki series, MGC worked with none other than Russel Wong himself to feature a tasteful collection of Russel’s works taken in Japan. 

The first bottle in the KyoMurasaki series was a tasty Mount Gay rum (which we’ve reviewed here) that featured Russel’s photograph of Kyoto’s iconic Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, captured in monochrome.

Today’s bottle features an image of two red-crowned cranes in mid-flight, photographed by Russel in the sub-zero temperatures of Hokkaido. 

 

 

Indeed, red-crowned cranes or tancho (丹頂 ) hold a special place in Japanese folklore and art, inspiring many paintings and folk dances for hundreds of years. The cranes are monogamous and would form lifelong pairs. They also have very long lifespans, some living up to 75 years of age. Due to these characteristics, the red-crowned crane is a timeless symbol of longevity and devotion in Japanese culture.

 

A photograph of red-crowned cranes by Russel (Source: Russel Wong, via Silver Spotlight) 

 

The red-crowned crane, or tancho, hold a special place in Japanese folklore and art, inspiring many paintings and folk dances for hundreds of years - making this a timeless and attractive subject for Russel's photography.

 

Speaking in an interview with Silver Spotlight early this year, Russel shared that as he became a more established photographer, he soon realised that his innumerable portraits of iconic figures – the likes of Jackie Chan, Rihanna and Lee Kuan Yew – would one day become important historical records even when everyone is long gone. “I love looking at old Bruce Lee photographs, and I wish there were more.” This motivated Russel to continue creating more images with a sense of timelessness, that future generations would be keen to see.

 

(Source: Russel Wong) 

 

“I get great imagery out of [Japan] because it’s timeless… These birds have been painted for such a long time, and they’re very iconic in Japanese culture,” said Russel, explaining his sudden interest in bird photography. “I choose subjects that have some history, so that the images I create can transcend time.” 

The liquid itself is a 16 Years Old Fettercairn 2006 Single Malt Scotch that had been finished in a Barbados rum cask. Fettercairn Distillery typically produces a bright and clean classic Highland whisky style that is full of tropical fruits and citrus. The distillery is known for using a unique cooling ring on its stills, which drenches the still and increases reflux during distillation. The result is a generally lighter and brighter spirit.

 

The cooling ring installed on Fettercairn's stills (Source: Maison du Whisky)

 

Let’s give this a taste.

Fettercairn 2006 Single Malt Scotch, 16 Years Old, Barbados Rum Cask Finish, Malt Grain & Cane, 54.7% ABV – Review

 

Colour: Yellow gold.

Nose: Sweet, elegant and with a pleasantly stony quality. Honey and brown sugar syrup lead the way, with a bright sweetness of apple juice. Unfolds into caramel and slightly savoury butterscotch with a biscuity undertone. Baking spices make their presence felt with a gentle prick on the nose. There’re also some mineral nuances, mild chalkiness and a subtle influence of salted peanut butter, then some trace of ash.

Palate: Opens with a herbaceous start reminiscent of virgin olive oil, the spirit’s texture oily and viscous. Lashings of honey, maple syrup, pear cider and caramelised banana unfold as time passes. This combination of herbal and honeyed character is reminiscent of cool Chinese herbal jelly with honey (guilinggao or ‘龟苓膏). There’s also a presence of minerality intertwined with a growing pepperiness.

Finish: Clean and long. An initial brightness of grapefruit and sweet citrus notes give way to a lingering sweetness of Mentos mint candy. Light oakiness and darker flavours emerge toward the end with cocoa powder, along with the subtle savoury aftertaste of roasted peanuts.

 

My Thoughts:

Rating: 🍯🌿

This Fettercairn is something else. It’s unapologetically flavourful and sweet, but still quite layered. You’re hit with this wonderful mix of rich and honeyed sweetness, contrasted with more austere, mineral and briny notes. The Barbados rum cask enhances the inherent sweetness present in the Fettercairn spirit, but the rum influence doesn’t steal the show - you can just about pick up on the fresh banana note, just adding a hint of the exotic.

I love a sweet-tasting Scotch, and this is right up my alley.

Available by the pour if you're ever in Singapore, at The Swan Song, and soon to be available by the bottle via Malt, Grain & Cane.

@CharsiuCharlie