Age: No age statement
A little known distillery, Fettercairn is situated in the eastern Highlands, south of Aberdeen. Initially operational as a grain mill, it was converted into a licensed distillery soon after the 1823 Excise Act made legal whisky distilling a profitable option. Although the distillery actually produces around 1.6 million litres of alcohol per year, the larger part of this disappears into blends, most notably Whyte & Mackay. In 2010 however, Fettercairn was rebranded as a premium single malt, of which Fior is one of the main expressions.
Gaelic for ‘pure and true’, Fior is a fusion of older sherried whisky (around 14-15 years) mixed with young, heavily peated spirit from first-fill bourbon casks. The peated whisky supposedly makes up only 15% of the total mix, providing Fior with wonderfully subtle smoky undertones. Although blends provide a vital stream of income for many distilleries, Fettercairn Fior is another great example of the pure joy that single malts can bring to the table. I hope we can expect more big things from this small Highland distillery.
Nose: Sweet and distinctly floral. The opening aromas are like a fruity hay barn. Then scents of dried plum and orange peel take over, finally giving way to more oaky notes. The sherry influence is clear throughout.
Palate: Initially vegetative flavours dominate, reminiscent of marshes and autumn leaves. Crushed almonds and cocoa butter give the body a smooth, oily character. Rich notes of toffee and marzipan are followed by the faintest whiff of smoke.
Finish: Medium. This is where the complex oaky character of this whisky really comes to the fore. Nutty praline and cinnamon develop into an aftertaste of toasted wood.
Verdict: Fettercairn is not a whisky that is on everyone’s radar and I was pleasantly surprised by this dram. For a whisky of this price, Fior offers amazing complexity and a wealth of rich flavours. The sherry influence is delicately balanced with oaky notes and a very subtle smokiness. This hidden gem is an absolute bargain!