We’re finish up the week by trying an older (and still available) Fettercairn from Cadenheads alongside a younger port finished release.
Cadenheads Fettercairn 31yo
This 31yo Fettercairn from the Autumn 2020 Authentic collection release spent its life in a bourbon hogshead before being bottled in an outturn of 252 bottles.
The initial nose has a mixture of citrus and orchard fruits, apples, lemons, pears, a little orange too. This is all backed up with a dusty, woodiness that we would usually find a little unpleasant, but here it seems to work really well together with the fruits. There's a strong biscuit note here too, it's like unsweetened shortbread.. in fact there's not much sweetness on the nose at all. It’s relatively balanced and fairly complex, with a few lingering hay and grassy notes in there too.
The sugar starts to appear on the front palate in the form of barley sugars and sweetened lemon iced tea. The palate quickly moves into a heavier, and meatier flavour that reminds us of char sui pork somewhat. The finish brings us dry oak, ground ginger, a little black pepper and dusty leather, going on for a reasonable amount of time. There's quite a bit of alcohol in here for a 31 year old whisky, giving it a slightly more aggressive bite than we'd have liked. The mouthfeel is good however, and we find that the dram is mostly in balance if you look past the alcohol.
Nose (with water)
The nose has opened up spectacularly, giving us honey, floral notes, sweet tea and an overall completeness that we felt it was missing before. The alcohol has receded but it's retained the orchard fruits and citrus we found before. The dustiness has lightened as well, but still sits in the background.
Palate (with water)
Lemon tart, hay, honey nut cheerios with a silky mouthfeel and zing of citrus keeping the dram interesting. The finish retains its length, with toasted brioche, a little salt and a touch of wood in the background. The spice has faded considerably after adding water.
Pre-dilution, we didn't quite feel this matched its age, but with water it really opens up into something quite harmonious. It's a complex dram with good balance and a nice mixture of sweetness, acidity and savouriness. A really good example of what can be done when spirit is left in the cask for a good length of time. It is pricey though, and without water it's a little rough, so we'll go with 7/10.
Cadenheads Fettercairn 13yo Ruby Port Finish
Next up a 13 year old Fettercairn bottled in February 2021 that had a 20 month finishing period in a ruby port hogshead. The outturn contained 300 bottles.
Chocolate digestive biscuits, a little thyme, a little cheese funk. The port cask influence seems a little lost on the initial nose, there's maybe a little red currant but we're getting more earthy, woody notes instead. Sitting with it for a bit longer, some strawberry syrup appears as well.
Lots of fresh ripe strawberries blended into a milkshake with some vanilla ice cream, alongside some pepper notes as well. There's a touch of marzipan, but the alcohol is a little too punchy and leads to a slightly bitter aftertaste and quite a dry finish.
Nose (with water)
Water really brings out the funk mentioned before; it's like stepping into a cheesemongers. There's some quince jelly now, a little raspberry jam and subtle fizziness.
Palate (with water)
More vanilla and oak appear initially, followed by sweetened cherryade. We think some water really opens the palate up.
This is a little one dimensional, and doesn't really have the burst of red fruit that we wanted from the port cask. It's also quite mouth drying, rather than mouth coating which we'd prefer. Overall it's a perfectly acceptable whisky, but we wouldn't seek out a bottle.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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