Fettercairn 17, 1995 (Exclusive Malts)

I keep saying this about most of the minor Scottish distilleries but I have very little experience of Fettercairn. I’ve only reviewed a couple of them before this one and have maybe tried twice as many in total. As such I have no expectations. Of the two I’ve reviewed one did nothing for me and the other was average—which leaves the door open for this one to be the first Fettercairn that will really move me. Okay, so it also leaves the door open for this to be the first Fettercairn I end up pouring into the sink—why do you have to be so negative?

This particular Fettercairn was bottled by Exclusive Malts for K&L in California. Being negative, you might say that this is not a very promising combination but I have had very good whiskies from both. Let’s see if this is another one of those.

Fettercairn 17, 1995 (57.1%; Exclusive Malts for K&L; cask 2800; from a sample from a friend)

Nose: A lovely mix of lemon, honey, malt and toasted, slightly prickly oak. The lemon expands on the second sniff and there’s sweeter fruit too (peach, pineapple). Gets muskier as it sits. The yeasty sourness from the palate begins to pop out here too with time though it’s less pronounced here. A few drops of water push the yeast back and make the whole sweeter (blueberries rather than peach) and then the citrus and pineapple come roaring back.

Palate: Exactly as promised by the nose and that’s a very good thing. Citrus and sweet fruit and malt in a subtle oaky frame. Very approachable at full strength. The malt expands as it sits but begins to go in a sour, almost yeasty direction. With more time it begins to settle back into a musky, malty mean. Let’s see if water seals the deal. Well, the yeast is gone now but while the citrus expands again, the muskier fruit from the nose is less forthcoming.

Finish: Long. First the fruit gets muskier, then the oak becomes a little more pronounced. The yeasty notes hang out into the finish too once they show up on the palate. As on the palate with water, with more toasted oak.

Comments: This started out great, especially on the nose, before faltering a bit on the palate…and then coming back strong again. I see Michael pegged this as a possible refill sherry cask—I thought it was a pretty classic bourbon cask profile. But will he apologize? No. Where was I? Oh yes, this was a very pleasant surprise—wish I’d bought a bottle.

Rating: 88 points.

Thanks to Florin for the sample!

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