McGregor Recommends: Fettercairn 12-year-old
McGregor Recommends is a blog series of single malt whisky recommendations from James McGregor. James has owned The Royal McGregor for more than 15 years. He has a passion for single malt whisky and sharing his favourite malts with customers.
James has hosted whisky tastings at The Royal McGregor as well as various venues around Edinburgh for several years.
In April, we are continuing our monthly series where I review and recommend the best single malt whiskies on the market.
This month, we're heading North to the Grampian Hills to visit the Fettercairn Distillery and taste their 12-year-old.
The name of the town, Fettercairn, is loosely based on the phrase "the foot of the mountain". The distillery itself was founded in 1824 by Alexander Ramsay, who at the time owned the Fasque estate and made his fortune by converting a corn mill at Nethermill into a distillery. In 1829, Ramsay sold the distillery to the Gladstone family, and William Gladstone was soon known in the whisky world for passing various reforms on the taxation of whisky.
In 1973, Whyte & Mackay acquired Fettercairn distillery and it has remained with the company since.
The distillery itself was built with a flavour palette in mind. Fettercairn produce bottlings which give a firm, quite heavy, nutty style of single malt whisky. This is especially present for bottlings from 1995 to 2009, when the distillery’s condensers were made of stainless steel.
Now, the distillery has cooling rings attached to the top of the swan neck, which spray cold water down the sides of the still. This little addition helps the spirit lean toward a lighter style of malt.
The 12-year-old we are tasting today was made to capture the Fettercairn distillery’s floral and exotic fruit-driven character. It’s matured in American oak ex-Bourbon casks, which gives the malt a lovely hint of vanilla, pear and soft spice.
Need the finer details? Let’s get tasting!
Nose: Candied fruits, particularly lemon and pineapple. Some butter icing and a hint of mint will come through. A touch of meatiness sits right at the back, giving the dram some weight. Here the sweetness will show and a waft of fruit develops along with milk chocolate, vanilla, and some green leaves.
Palate: A typical Highland malt, the first taste is soft and rounded, with gentle spice and milk chocolate. Fresh pineapple and lemon notes are perfectly balanced by fresh oak. It’s rounded off by cinnamon and nutmeg, before finishing off with creamy coffee.
Finish: Vanilla cream, chocolate, and coffee fade away and you’ll be left with a mix of crunchy apples and menthol.
Why you should try it!
The Fettercairn 12-year-old is an extremely drinkable malt. Unlike other peated whiskies I’ve recommended so far, the Fettercairn has a distinct sweetness that hits your tongue but isn’t overpowering.
Highland malts are typically known for their welcoming flavours and their smooth texture. If you are just beginning your journey into tasting malts, put the Fettercairn 12-year-old on your list!