Fettercairn is a small, quiet town or village rather, as Queen Victoria used to describe it, in Eastern Schotland (Aberdeenshire). It roughly translates as “at the foot of the hill”. One day, things became exceptionally dreary and boring at Balmoral Castle and Queen V decided to go to a local pub, incognito, accompanied by just a few people. This pub happened to be the ‘Ramsay Arms‘ in Fettercairn and the people of Fettercairn were so proud of this visit that they decided to commemorate this happy event by building a monumental archway in their village.
Now apart from the archway and the pub, Fettercairn is also known as a brand of whisky. A brand new brand actually, releasing a new collection from a very old distillery, the 1824 Fettercairn Distillery. This distillery was founded by Alexander Ramsay (yes the pub was named after him), who happened to have a unicorn in his family crest, just like the old Scottish kings. And this magnificent, mythological animal, which stands for strength and purity became also the Fettercairn logo.
Purity is something they very devoutly quest for at Fettercairn. And to achieve this they have a very unique distilling proces. They use crystal-clear mountain water to cool down their pot stills during distillation. This happens by water cooling rings around the neck of the still, from which water pours down over the outside of the still. Over the years this turns the copper into a jade-like green. The proces actually creates more condensation inside the still, so only the lighter vapours rise. Thus creating a very pure whisky.
Now to facilitate our online tasting session we received beforehand a tasting package, filled to the brim with curiosities! It was really intriguing and made us as giddy as a kid in a toystore. Inside were: a miniature atomiser filled with new make spirit. I always love it when companies give you a sample of newmake to taste or smell. It is the basis of your product, this is what comes out of your stills. The Fettercairn newmake already revealed the typical freshness which runs through the whole range. Next in the pack was a huuuge marshmallow, possibly the biggest marshmallow I ever sank my teeth in. It was delicious, mango flavoured and paired with the Fettercairn 12YO. A very creative and unsuspected food pairing, I must say, but very yummy. The Fettercairn 12YO is an aperitif style whisky you could say, it is lithe, fresh and fruity, a bit grassy even. The fruit is tropical, whence the mango flavoured marshmallow, and this also recognised as one of the typical aspects of Fettercairn.
Next up was the Fettercairn 16YO paired with “Bare Bones” Chocolate. The 16YO is finished in Port and Olorosso barrels. It tastes like peach, ginger and caramel with chocolate and demarara flavours in the finish. A lot of flavour and still that typical lithe, freshness.
Third was the Fettercairn 22YO, aged in American Oak Bourbon barrels. This is like an eruption of all kinds of different fruits and finishes in Christmas cake. A very nice dessert whisky.
The fourth sample was a mystery sample, which later was revealed to be from 16/12/1988 and bottled at 58,5% aged in Bourbon refill Hogsheads. The flavour was described as the Dunwich Funk! A mind blowing whisky! There’s a lot going on here flavourwise. Too much to describe actually, you have to taste this for yourselves. It’s an incredible balance between robust and straightforward, countering again the green freshness. It’s fruity, but also quite spicy. It’s a gem of a dram!
Also include in the package was a Dash Peach Soda to be used as a palate cleanser and at the same time paired perfectly with all of the whiskies (the fruitiness). It was an amazing tasting session and a real discovery of a new brand, being very creative and innovative. Fettercairn is definitely a brand you will want to follow or keep an eye on for the future.
So, if you like a pure whisky, fresh and fruity…go quest for the Unicorn!