Fettercairn. Whyte & Mackay's Unicorn Single Malt for Asia.
Fettercairn. This is inbetween Aberdeen and Perth, but not really near anything. Many Americans probably haven’t heard of the brand either. They are owned by Whyte & Mackay and are mainly used for producing spirit for blends. I do however really enjoy their unicorn logo and find their branding really unique. I also can see why their largest markets are India, China and Japan. I can definitely see a few of these countries really liking the unicorn look and feel.
They were bought by Whyte & Mackay in 1973 which made them part of the Dalmore and Jura family as well. Karina was my tour guide and she was lovely, but I wasn’t able to take any photos. I was able to sweet talk my way into taking a few photos in the warehouse, but unfortunately I don’t have any of the stills, washbacks or mash tuns. It is a shame, because the stills were very unique. I will talk about that a bit later. They had just come out of a silent season in July and currently have 12 full time employees. They can hold up to 30,000 casks on site, but currently only have 25,000. There are 14 warehouses to hold these casks and all are dunnage style. The oldest cask on site is a 1965 American Oak. In total their capacity is right around 2.2 million liters of new make spirit per year. Most of their production, right around 90%, goes to the blends for the Whyte & Mackay brand. I was also told that although it is usually kept quite a secret, it is confirmed that some amount of Fettercairn production is sold and used in Johnnie Walker.
In regards to equipment, they have one copper/cast iron mash tun where they run about 25 mashes per week. Their mash cycle lasts about 6 hours with three different waters running through. They use distillers Kerry yeast and a company in Stirling holds this yeast for them. They also had the 11 most beautiful washbacks I have ever seen. They were Oregon pine with red trim. Their fermentation period will typically last anywhere from 48-56 hours. They don’t have the blades in their washbacks, they use an agitator like a few other locations I have seen. Now in regards to their stills. They have what you would expect, a nice copper still, no bulge, but there was water running down the top of the spirit still. You could see how it had corroded the copper away on the outside. Apparently this is called the “irrigation system”. They will run cold water down the top of the spirit still to help with reflux. This is only done when they are taking the hearts cut. They believe this will give them a lighter spirit and not as oily. As far as everyone knows on site, they have been doing this since the 1950’s. This is the first time I have ever come across this method.
The people here were lovely and I spent almost two hours on this private tour! I do recommend everyone going to check out their irrigation system on the stills. It was awesome to see it running. Sorry for no pictures! I sampled the most popular malt that they have.
Fettercairn Fior- Non-Age Statement
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Apples, sugary, milk chocolate, marmalade.
Palate: Green apples, honey, sweet tea, chocolate covered cherries.
I must say it was quite rich and flavorful. Not sure if it can be purchased in the US, but keep an eye out for it!
Next up is Glenkinchie..