In the bowels of Whyte & Mackay Distillers there’s a few distilleries that fall somewhere between niche brands that only whisky nerds know of and stuff that’s going into blends or the odd IBs that are so impressive you wonder where they’ve been all your life. Ignoring Dalmore, because… it’s just Macallan without the prestige or interesting releases, we have Tamnavulin, Jura, and of important note today, Fettercairn.
I’ve danced around the odd Fettercairn, and this is what I’ve been able to figure out about the malt so far:
It needs longer to open up I don’t know if I like it or not
That’s it. Literally that’s it. I love the idea that the distillery releases a ton of age-stated whiskies. Have I run into them? No, but that’s probably because of where I live more than any bias I may have against the distillery.
Today we start to change that. Kind of. Alright, I’m just trying to explain why I haven’t run into the plethora of OB releases from Fettercairn. But we’re kinda helping, dammit!
Today we’re reviewing Fettercairn 9 2003 Distillery Exclusive, a single cask release that you had to either show up to the distillery to purchase (in 2013) or purchased from an auction (which seem to still have them).
So it’s a Fettercairn that was laid down mid 2003 (“the before times”) and then finished for a certain amount of time in a First Fill Bourbon Barrel finish.
What cask was it in before? I don’t know. I really looked all over the internet and found diddly squat.
But how does it taste? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: € 85
Vintage: June 24, 2003
Cask type: First Fill Bourbon Barrel Finish
Cask number 771717
Number of bottles: 250
Colour: 5YR 4/8
Nose: Brown sugar, mineral, apple, gingerbread, cherry
So I double checked with my buddy who has had more Fettercairn offerings, and he mentioned that I should give this the extra time I’ve given older offerings. Thus instead of waiting my normal 15 minutes, I gave it 30. Hooray for having spare time again!
Molasses, minerals, some strong fruit and spice. Water is helping a lot, even after taking a long time to open up, and I even gave it more time after the water. It feels like it’s growing to some complex crescendo and then…it’s just a piano recital.
Taste: Hazelnut, leather, cherry, saltwater, cloves
Nutty, some real nice leather and cherry notes (good ex-bourbon cask from what I can tell), some more brine and spice and then… Same as before. Spent a long time getting here, and it feels like it needs to go back into the cask again. Either cask.
Finish: Cloves, cinnamon, radish, peanut
Huh. So the finish is very, very simple, mostly spice, earth, and some nuttiness. Maybe a bit of salt. It’s just meh. Too bad.
Conclusion: Interesting, but I think it should have sat longer in the cask. Which is frustrating. It’s like watching a video that cuts off right before something interesting happens. I debated attempting to write an entire review where I cut myself off, and realized that it isn’t going to work in this medium. Because it
See? That’s disjoint and jank. It won’t work.
Anyway, where were we? I really do feel like the nose and taste were the best parts, but it needed additional time in the casks. If I had to guess I’d say it was in a 2nd fill Bourbon barrel and then amped up with the first fill to have something that you wouldn’t mind as a souvenir from the tour.
Try it if you can, if you can’t, no fomo.
Scotch review #1519, Highland review #250, Whisky Network review #2228