It is always a pleasure to visit distilleries and Fettercairn is certainly a distillery that everyone should try to get to! the rolling hills in the background, surrounded by the beautiful Scottish countryside add to that a very friendly welcome, what more could you possibly ask for ?
Ok maybe a little whisky helps..
As you approach the visitor centre at present you have to walk past one of the warehouses and it’s at that point you get that first whiff of maturing spirit, pause for a minute or several if you are like me, just let it transports you into a frenzy of excitement and wonderment of what might be to come..
This sets the scene for the whole visit, everything about Fettercairn is a little different while still being very normal if that makes sense ? There are some small changes as well as the odd significant difference in how the whisky is made and it is very easy to understand why they do these little tweaks and how it effects the spirit..
In an age where just about anything is tried in order to make the production unique or in order to get a slight edge in sales then when the process is explained you do start to wonder if it is all a gimmick.
There are numerous gimmicks or maybe I should call them selling points out there designed not to upset people with the added increase to the price of a bottle and to brainwash us into believing they have something unique or special..
Anyway back to Fettercairn – Stewart Walker is the distillery manager and when I visited I was extremely privileged to be shown around by him and to get the chance to sit down with Stewart in order to discuss the process and thoughts behind the the production..
An interview with Stewart can be found HERE ..
While we sat we discussed the unique process of cooling down the vapour produced in the stills by running cool water down the necks of the spirit still in order the force down the heavier spirit back down which in turn helps to produce a lighter spirit ( I have to admit I was a little sceptical, I don’t generally believe these little gimmicks but I was absolutely convinced by Stewart that this is in fact a viable process that does help to form what we know as the Fettercairn style !! )
The Distillery was founded back in 1824 by Sir Alexander Ramsey but when fire ravaged the distillery in 1887 it was forced to close for a few years but was soon closed its doors again when mothballed in 1926.
Opened again in 1939 it wasn’t too long after that the cooling ring was added after experimenting with the idea in 1952.
Today the distillery comes under the ownership of Whyte and Mackay and is probably not at the top of their list of distilleries but hopefully this will soon change as the spirit they are producing is well worth a look..
12 Year Old PX
This new addition to the range is found in the travel retail sector and is the same spirit as the standard 12 year old but with the added Pedro Ximénez finish of around 18 – 24 months.
Age.. 12 years
Cask.. American oak – Pedro Ximénez Sherry butts.
Nose.. Surprisingly soft with tropical fruits, fresh orchard fruits, soft plum notes which then bring in some dried fruits and candied orange..
Palate.. A soft spicy intro soon leads into a more sherries flavour with those typical dried fruits and chocolate notes but again it’s a softer version than you might expect. There is that tropical fruit note that seems to be evident in all the Fettercairn expressions I have tried.
Finish.. Soft spices and subtle fruits
Thoughts.. My only complain about this has to be the Abv.. This really would’ve benefited from a few extra digits on that scale, that said what you do get is very drinkable and very easy going.
The softness is the key here, the spirit is very easy going with a laid back feel, nothing is in your face and you know that’s how it’s designed to be, the balance is right and that allows the initial bourbon maturation to still have its say while the PX finish certainly does not dominate which is in this case a big bonus..
Reviewed from an official sample sent on behalf of Fettercairn..