The flavour of a young whisky is predominantly spirit led. As time in the barrel passes the barrel effects begin to take over the flavour profile. At the same time any poor or tainted notes are gradually removed by the barrel filtration effect.
It is interesting to follow the progress of the spirit influences in maturing whisky where as they say:
‘The force is strong.’Yoda
In recent years for me one whisky has stood out in its ability to keep its fresh floral citrus and fruit notes as they interact with the barrel notes. That whisky is Fettercairn. Not the most well known of whiskies but produced by one of the best known master distillers.
It is one of Whyte and MacKay’s rapidly developing stable. The distillery manager is Stewart Walker. the big name in distilling for the group is Richard ‘the nose’ Patterson. Other brands in the group include Dalmore, Jura and Tamnavuelin.
I have tasted a number of Fettercairn expressions from the 12 year old, to a single cask independent 12 year old, the 28, 40 and 50 year old. The 28 is in the £400’s the 40 the £3000 ’s and if you could get one the last time I looked the 50 was a snip at £18,000!.
Without exception these have been extraordinarily fine whiskies. The spirit is so fresh, clean and distinctive that no cask can dull its brilliance. Indeed the better the cask the more robust the outcome over time.
The 28, 40 and 50 are priced beyond my means but there are opportunities to pick up middle aged expressions from independents like Boutiquey. I recently received a sample of the 12 year old PX cask to try. For me this was an exciting prospect a younger expression but in a superb cask, a combination that I anticipated would produce a fabulous dram at an affordable price. `spoiler Alert – I was certainly not disappointed.
Lets start with my review:
Fettercairn 12 year old PX 40% ABV
Dark amber, lovely thick legs
Nose: red grapes, citrus, violets, Scotch tablet with a note of treacle, malt, sherry, hazelnuts, a really good nose
Palate: date loaf, tea, light pepper, liquorice, pineapple, banana and ginger, with note of anise boilings .
Great depth and complexity for 12 years old showcasing really great casks. I loved this whisky and will try to get a bottle for myself although I do not see it listed anywhere yet. It is a travel retail exclusive, I did spot a review of a 1 Litre bottle from a U.S. blogger, which might be a clue. This is a great example of a whisky which combines spirit and barrel exquisitely and does not need a higher ABV to enhance the flavour profile. It hits its sweet spot perfectly and I highly recommend this dram.