Rich and Round
Note: We assign every bottle we review to one of five Flavour Camps, based on the most dominant flavours found. The Flavour Camps are : (1) Fragrant and Floral, (2) Fruity and Spicy, (3) Malty and Dry, (4) Rich and Round and (5) Smokey and Peaty. To learn more about each Flavour Camp, please click here.
Fettercairn has been quietly undergoing a massive revival, and this bottle marks just that.
Their revitalisation efforts has seen their bottles put on some new clothes, much fresher and sharper ones that focus on the core identities of the distillery – its spirit animal, the unicorn, and their unique use of copper rings on their distillation stills.
But wait there’s more to their modernist revamp, they’ve also streamlined their range to showcase their most elusive bottlings. This bottle is just that, their first special bottling since their makeover.
It combines their best casks sourced from a variety of maturation styles.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed and was hotly sought after by fans who’ve been won over by the major overhaul undergone by the distillery that has seen its bottlings soar in popularity and pick up numerous awards.
As the first small batch release (and only online for Europe), with only 3,600 bottles released, the Warehouse 2 (out of their 16 Warehouses) release was hotly sought after. And we kid you not, this was sold out faster than you could click add to cart. In auctions, prices quadrupled from the original retail price.
Not to be deterred, we ourselves were wildly interested in trying the first small batch release to come out of the unicorn distillery, and we knew it would be worth the effort given Fettercairn’s light fruity profile that we typically enjoy.
This limited edition belongs to the distillery’s small batch releases designed to showcase Fettercairn’s highest quality malts beyond what the core range offers.
|Distillery: Fettercairn||Brand: Fettercairn|
|Region: Highlands, Scotland||Status: Active|
|Distributor: Original Bottling (OB)||Classification: Malt Whisky|
|Style: Single Malt Scotch||Cask: Port Pipes, Vasyma Sherry, Tevasa Sherry, Unseasoned Vasyma, ex-Bourbon|
|Age: 10 Years Old||Abv: 49.7%|
Behind the Label
Brands undergo rebrandings all the time and for the most part to fairly questionable outcomes – most of them don’t make it to be honest. And Fettercairn itself is no stranger to rebrandings, yet the ultimate goal of securing its spot on the top shelf always remained elusive. But this time, and to widely held surprise, they did it.
They stuck the landing.
Fettercairn finally got it right.
Fettercairn puts on some new clothes! (Image Source: Master of Malt)
The new core range of 12s, 16s, 22s, 28s, 40s and finally 50 year old releases was embraced with hard earned commendations. To be sure, it wasn’t easy, but with time and the appropriate amount of marketing gusto, Fettercairn’s might was finally introduced to the world.
On the heels of the positivity received for the core range, there was much excitement for Fettercairn to venture further and showcase its potential. The people wanted more in the way of single cask releases, limited editions, small batches, the sort. Everyone wanted to see what Fettercairn was made of.
The start of something special? (Image Source: Fettercairn)
This first release from the Warehouse Collection was everyone’s wish come true.
Some key details first. This bottle features single malts distilled in 2010 and matured in five different casks – 40% from Port pipes (Port being the sweet fortified wine), 10% Vasyma Sherry Butts, 10% Tevasa Sherry Barrels, 5% unseasoned Vasyma Barrels and finally 35% drawn from ex-Bourbon Barrels.
What’s Vasyma and Tevasa you might be thinking, and don’t worry you’re in good company, even whisky aficionados sometimes get thrown off. Vasyma and Tevasa are well-known cooperages (where wooden casks are made) in Jerez, Spain (the main source of Sherry-seasoned casks), which also supply casks to the likes of Macallan.
Macallan obviously famous for their excellent use of and sourcing of Sherry casks. So rest assured these are solid Sherry casks used. (Image Source: Cool Hunting)
The unseasoned Vasyma Barrel hasn’t been seasoned with the same Sherry liquour but is basically European Oak casks, which again, are always prized versus American Oak, given that they are significantly more costly.
All that tells you that Fettercairn is really going all out with this bottling and they’re serious about etching a good impression now that they’ve got their limelight back on.
Aside from that, if you’re unacquainted with Fettercairn, you should know that they are unique in their used of a copper ring around their distillation stills, which is the same ring you see around the unicorn emblem on the bottle.
Right in the center you can see the copper ring around the neck of the pot still from which water flows down leaving stains on the belly of the still. (Image Source: Whisky.com)
This copper ring is constantly cooled with water and in turn it cools the spirits being distilled through the pot stills. That has the effect of creating a very light fruity flavour profile, which in this case is about to get a whole lot more complex with the variety of high quality casks used.
But yes, it is because of this copper ring that Fettercairn has created their defining style of highly tropical fruity notes, such as mangoes, pineapples, peaches and melons - all of which you can experience from this bottling.
Colour is amber, almost the colour of IPA beer.
Looks about right. Shout out to Rye and Pint for making some awesome craft beers in Singapore, check them out! (Image Source: Rye and Pint)
On the nose unmistakably Fettercairn! Laden with fresh tropical fruits, the you-gotta-eat-it-today kinda ripeness. Let’s sort through this proverbial fruit basket shall we?
First we get the characteristic melons - the really deep orange honeydews, then there’s the more crunchy stuff, the white peaches and pears. You can almost hear that nice full crunch that you get when you take the first bite into one of them.
The combination of tropical fruits, custard and a buttery biscuit base nails it on the head. (Image Source: Certified Pastry Afficionado)
On second nosing, now that our noses are properly awakened to this fruity cornucopia, we get more zingy pineapples and some Maraschino cherries. I presume this comes from the mix of Fettercairn’s fruity spirit coupled with the rich European Oak Sherry casks.
There’s also this warm maltiness to it, almost like raisin bread batter or even rum and raisin ice cream. It’s a soft bready texture that brings in some vanilla and cocoa powder. The tartness from the Maraschino cherries mellows out its sharpness and lands at something of a tiramisu – creamy, coffee, zingy from the rum.
Somewhere between raisin bread mix and tiramisu closes out the nose. (Image Source: The Spruce Eats)
It’s really a wonderful nose, something that evolves as you let it sit.
Going in for a sip, on the palate, this whisky is fairly heavy, quite rich with a thicker body. Almost like a dessert wine. Initially what comes through is a honeyed sweetness, with the some milk and toffees. Kinda reminds me of a Crunchie bar, the one with honeycombs in it from Cadbury. It is very rich and almost chewy in fact.
Absolutely loved this as a kid. (Image Source: Cadbury)
It really is a mouthful.
It plays around with a whole swirl of layers, very multi-dimensional this one.
You also get some poached pears and apple tarts, with a mellowed out base of caramel and a dusting of cinnamon and powdered sugar. Very much the work of the ex-Bourbon matured components.
(Image Source: Joy of Baking)
On a second sip, you kinda know what to expect at the forefront so we kinda wanna see what else is there. Beyond the Crunchie bar we initially got, there’s also a slight drying quality that helps to make sure it doesn’t get too cloying (or as we call it in Singapore, jelat).
It allows the buttery texture to recede with some ginger, the kind you get poached in a herbal soup, as well as some dried raisins – all of which definitely coming from the Sherry casks.
During the Chinese Lantern Festival that takes place sometime between February and March, it is customary to eat a dessert called tangyuan, translated as glutinous rice balls in soup, the soup being spiced with poached ginger. (Image Source: ChooChooCaChew)
The finish comes very smoothly, a wonderful transition really, which leaves you with some caramel sweetness leftover from the initial palate, as well as a follow through from the poached ginger. It’s a mid-length finish and very warming with strong malty base notes.
Water isn’t really necessary here, but a second sip definitely does help prepare the palate for this multi-layered malt.
This really is a pretty well-rounded malt, on the one hand it transitions from being this very bright tropical fruity nose to a very deep malty palate that is really complex and goes from a Crunchie bar to a more oak-y spiced cinnamon dusted apple tart of sorts.
Certainly chalk this up to the various maturations that went into it, remember it has 40% Port, 35% ex-Bourbon, 20% Sherry and a final 5% unseasoned European Oak. So it really presents various facets that you don’t get with the core range, which typically go one dimensionally but at increasing loudness as it gets older.
This first foray into small batches has really lived up to its expectations certainly and the market certainly seems to think so, with auction prices being driven up four-fold.
It is very well-balanced with nothing being too overpowering, it blends very well and there’s nothing that is thrown off beat here. The Sherry influence was a lot less than you’d expect and the tropical fruits that has come to be synonymous with Fettercairn is more on the nose than on the palate this time. But remember this is all about blending and pushing the envelope of what Fettercairn has to offer.
There’s a lot to unpack with this malt so take your time with is and ration it and see what you find on subsequent nosings and sips. It needs some time to open up and you don’t really need to add water with it – it doesn’t do much.
Worth it for sure! I had a great time with this!
The unicorn that reincarnated! The hype around this is real, it was a very harmonious mix and with 5 different casks no less. It straight up deserves a star because that's what the distillery has regained.