If you ever drive north on the coastal plains from Dundee to Aberdeen, on your left most of the way are mountains low but attractive, often snow capped. These are the eastern extensions of the Cairngorms and then Grampians. As you drive north of Laurencekirk these hills are known as the Mounth.
In whisky terms you are in the Eastern Highlands. Personally I believe the area from Fife to Banff should be a whisky area in its own right.
The hills are traversed by the modern version of old drove roads. Generally narrow twisting B-roads. These roads join the Angus Glens to mid Deeside. These were the routes travelled by illicit distillers over the years. The Cairn o’ Mount Road joins Fettercairn to Banchory and as a child was my favourite road going from the picnic sites in the Forest of Birse, over fords and old bridges to the large Cairn at the top of the Cain o Mount. Little did I know if we had kept going down the other side I would have arrived at one of my favourite distilleries. Fettercairn is not well known but is the centre of some of White and MacKay’s experiments with its two pairs of of stills often under the supervision of legendary Master Blender, Richard ‘the Nose’ Patterson.
It is one of Scotlands oldest distilleries and its access to the best Barleys and mountain spring water help produce one of Scotlands purest spirits, which deliver strong echoes of Lewis Grassic Gibbons classic Sunset Song novels set in the the Mearns the farmlands around this area.
I love it at 8 years old. It is beautifully delicate and complex, really spirit led. This expression is certainly not as harsh as past examples have been criticised for. Jim Murray is certainly not a fan!
I love this single cask expression and would recommend you buy it to fully understand what these Eastern Highland whiskies can deliver at a young age matured in sweet Virgin Oak casks.
Lighter than most initially, a beautiful light straw colour. Great barrels with a lovely spirit lead. The sherry hogshead char gives almost Bourbon notes.
Nose: Pan au chocolate, herbs, liquorice apple skin almonds oak
Palate: Heather honey, toffee, brazil nuts lemon treacle steak spicy ginger
Finish: round and complex dry salty note even a hint of char
Beautiful flavours and balance between sweetness spice and savoury
This Fettercairn goes straight into this years top 5 for me. It takes time to nose and taste but is a classic well priced independents example of a well chosen cask. At around £40 this is certainly a value expression. I am hopefully tasting the Fetercairn range soon. I expect it to excel.