Fettercairn 15 Years Review - Aberfeldy 12 Years Review - Old Pulteney Clipper Review - Blair Athol 12 Years Flora & Fauna Review


“Highland Special # 1”

Introduction:

Most of you know that I mainly use samples and miniatures when preparing my Reviews. I usually buy these in Holland and sometimes in Germany or the UK. Sometimes I receive samples from friends or readers or independent bottlers. In only two cases I received a few samples directly from distilleries. When planning my reviews for the coming months I always try to give attention to all Scottish Whisky regions as well as other Whisky/Whiskey/Bourbon producing regions all over the world with special attention to the USA, Ireland and Japan. And last but not least the blends. At the request of many readers I give preference to more recent expressions. As a result my backlog of older samples has increased quite a bit. To do justice to those samples I will review them in the format of Specials. These specials will deal with a specific region like today or with specific bottlers, countries or distilleries. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate on the Whisky and won't go into details about distilleries, maturation etc. I do hope you will like these Specials just as much as my regular reviews and I look forward to your reactions and suggestions. In today's special I will review 4 Highland Single Malts. Enjoy!
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Whisky Review # 702

Country: Scotland
Region: Eastern Highlands
Brand: Fettercairn - Distilled on March 22, 1995
Bottled by: Signatory Vintage on March 14, 2011 - 198 Bottles
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky
Age: 15 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 59.8% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Bourbon Cask   
Chill Filtration: No         
Price Range: Around US$ 80 (March 2018) - Discontinued
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ Good P/Q ratio. If you like Springbank, give it a try!

Colour:

Chardonnay (Natural Colour)

Nose:

The Alcohol is quite strong. I think it's the highest ABV I've encountered so far. Give it enough time in the glass to open up. There's the typical Varnish Aroma I so often find when Fresh Wood is used. The Nose is Light, slightly Oily and Medium-Sweet with some Fruity, Floral, Nutty and Grassy Aromas. 

Main Aromas:

Sweet Toasted Barley, Butterkekse (German Butter Biscuits), Vanilla, Caramel, Grass, Straw, Peardrops, Orange, Lemon, Dusty Road and Dyon Mustard.     

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather Honey, Wet Stone, Earth, Milk Chocolate, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Salt, Tobacco and Coffee with Milk.

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Palate:

The Delivery is quite strong thanks to the high ABV. On the Palate, this Malt is Bitter-Sweet, Green, Woody, Spicy and Earthy. It's different when compared to your average modern Whisky.   

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Toffee, Orange, Lemon, Peardrops, Dusty Road, Menthol, Heather-Honey, Pepper, Dried Herbs, Dyon Mustard, Hazelnut, Oak, Grass, Milk Chocolate and Caffe Latte.      

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Green Grape Seeds, Dusty Attic, Marzipan, Green Apple, Ginger and Nutmeg.  

Finish:

Medium-Long. Sweet at first but with an increasing Bitterness towards the Dry end. I find Toasted Malt, Heather-Honey, Dyon Mustard, Dusty Attic, Plum Jam, Lemon, Grass, Straw, Cherry-Flavoured Cough Syrup, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Menthol, Oak, Hazelnuts, Toffee and a light Metallic (Iron) note.  

Drinking Advice:

I added a tea spoon of Water that helps to calm down the Alcohol. The main Aromas on the Nose are reinforced, especially Orange, Vanilla and Grass. I even think I pick up a little Earthy Peat. Not sure though. On the Palate, the Orange, Vanilla, Hazelnuts and Spices develop. I perceive increased Menthol, Oak and a little Licorice on the Finish. This Malt requires added Water.

Rating: 82.5 

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20.5  - Overall: 20.5  

Drinking Experience:

Interesting. The ABV is a bit too high.  

Conclusion:

Certainly an interesting Single Malt. Quite different from your average modern Mainstream Malt. Some unusual notes like the Dyon Mustard. A little Dirty at times but if you like Springbank you might give this a try if you can find it. The ABV is really strong and this Malt needs some added Water. Despite the fact that this Fettercairn does not quite match my preferred Aroma/Flavour profile, I did enjoy the Tasting session. If only because it stands out as different.


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Image result for aberfeldy 12 years

Whisky Review # 703

Country: Scotland
Region: Southern Highlands
Brand: Aberfeldy 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Bourbon casks 
Chill Filtration: Yes         
Price Range: US$ 40-55 (March 2018).
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ Very simple entry Single Malt. At 40 US Dollars it's okay. 

Colour

Full (Old) Gold (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Light and Sweet with Fruity, Floral and Grainy notes and a whiff of Smoke. The Alcohol is not fully integrated and is slightly Edgy. There's a light Blended Scotch feeling to the Nose. 

Main Aromas:

Toasted Cereals, Toast with a mixture of Butter and Margarine, Caramel, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Toffee, Orange, Heather-Honey, Herbal Tea, Hay, Green Apple and Pear.    

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Floral Perfume, Melon, Smoke, Milk-Raisin Chocolate, Refill Oak, Lemon, White Grape Juice and Almonds. 


Palate:

Thin Delivery. Bitter and Sugary Sweet at the same time. I'm not too sure if I would have recognised it as a Single Malt in a Blind Tasting. It tastes more like a Blended Whisky with an increased Malt percentage.   

Main Flavours:

Toasted Cereals, Toast with Margarine, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Vanilla, Apple, Mandarin Juice, Grass, Straw and Refill Oak.  

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Melon, Lemon, Almonds, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cinnamon, Canned Pineapple, Herbal Tea, Aniseed, light Menthol and Milk Chocolate. 

Finish:

Bitter-Sweet, a little Musty, Medium-Dry and Short. I find Toasted Cereals, Hay, Grass, Sugar, Caramel, Toffee, Honey, Vanilla, Orange, light Smoke, Dusty Road,  Orange, Nuts, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Refill Oak, light Menthol and Licorice. A little Cocoa Powder perhaps. The Blend feeling remains. 

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes friendly. Malt and Fruit develop a bit more and the sharp Alcohol retreats. It smells more like a simple Single Malt now. Palate and Finish become quite Thin. Still, I recommend to add a few drops of Water to this Aberfeldy. I did not expect that to be honest.

Rating: 79.5

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 19 - Overall: 20 

Drinking Experience:

Average. Thin and Uninspired Single Malt. Almost like a Blend. Improves with Water. 

Conclusion:

The Aberfeldy 12 Years is a simple entry Single Malt with a few Blended Scotch characteristics. It does not offend in any way but it does not provide lots of fun as a sipping Malt either. Okay if you are just entering the world of Single Malts but too Thin and without depth for advanced Single Malt lovers. If you can get it at 40 US Dollars you will be okay. Don't pay much more though. Or save a bit more and go for the blended Dewar's 18 Years instead.   


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Image result for old pulteney clipper

Whisky Review # 704

Country: Scotland
Region: Northern Highlands
Brand: Old Pulteney Clipper (Round the World) - Limited Edition
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46%
Maturation: Mix of Refill Bourbon and Sherry casks 
Chill Filtration: No         
Price Range: US$ 60-80 (March 2018).
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ Young Summer Malt. Negative P/Q ratio. US$ 40 max!   

Colour

Golden Sunlight (Natural Colour)

Nose:

The Alcohol is present so be sure to give this Old Pulteney sufficient time in the glass before Nosing. The Clipper is mainly Fruity, Mineral, Grassy and Lemony but I find a few Salty and slightly Sour notes. Quite Young and Clean Nose. The Sherry Cask influence is limited.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Toast and Margarine, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Green Apple, Pear, Grapes, Banana, Fruitcake with lots of Raisins and Sultanas, Lemon and Grass.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Brown Sugar, Orange, Heather Honey, Hazelnut/Milk Chocolate, Green Plums, Tinned Pineapple, Nutmeg and Cinnamon.   

old pulteney distillery

Palate:

Sweet, Fruity, Young, Yeasty, Light and a little Harsh. 

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Hazelnut-Milk Chocolate, Heather-Honey, Oak, Orange, Lemon and Grass. 

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Fruitcake with Raisins, Brown Sugar, Ginger, Pepper, Herbs and Caffe Latte.   

Finish:

Middle-Long, Creamy and Bitter Sweet. The Bitterness slightly increases towards the Dry and Salty end. I find Toasted Malt, Orange, Banana, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Heather-Honey, Apple, Banana, Herbs, Lemon, Cinnamon, Ginger, Pepper and Oak.         

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Nose becomes very Light but also very Fruity. Palate and Finish do not show significant changes but you can add a few drops. No more than 5 to a small dram though!

Rating: 81  

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20  

Drinking Experience:

Good. Very Light and Clean. Summer Whisky.

Conclusion:

The Clipper was launched in 2014 to celebrate the 2013/2014 Round the World Yacht Race sponsored by the distillery. Only 2700 cases of 6 were made available to the market. The costs of the Sponsorship are to be partly recovered via the price of the Clipper Malt apparently. I say that because this coastal Whisky has a Salty price tag. It's obviously a young Whisky and the price should be below the standard 12 Years. That's not the case however. I know there are a few Refill Sherry casks in the mix but this Clipper should have been priced at around 40 to 45 US Dollars maximum. I've said it before and I will say it again. We should pay for Whisky and not for stories, however interesting they might be. Other than that the Clipper is a Young, Light, Clean and Fruity dram to be enjoyed on a hot Summer day.  


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Image result for blair athol 12 years flora & fauna

Whisky Review # 705

Country: Scotland
Region: Eastern Highlands
Brand: Blair Athol Flora & Fauna
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of Sherry and Bourbon casks   
Chill Filtration: Yes        
Price Range: US$ 55-70 (March 2018).
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜Š Positive. Nice and Well-Balanced Sherried Highlander.   

Colour

Oloroso with traces of Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

The Sherry Cask influence is very clear. I detect a little Sulphur but it stays well within limits. On the Nose this Blair Athol is Sweet and relatively Robust. The main Sherry Aromas are deepened with some interesting supportive tones. The Alcohol is nicely integrated.

Main Aromas:

Slightly Burn Toast, Salted Butter, Dried Fruit like Apricot, Raisins and Sultanas, Vanilla, Treacle, X-mas Cake, Orange, Almonds, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Fortified Red Wine and Red Apples.         

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Resin, Heather-Honey, Dusty Shelves, Smoke, Leather, Tobacco, Grass, Acetone, Tar, Cured Meat and Chocolate. 


Palate:

The Delivery is a little on the Thin side. An ABV of 46% would have been more adequate for this Blair Athol. On the Palate the Flora & Fauna is Bitter-Sweet with well-balanced Sherry influences. Quite nice. 

Main Flavours:

Toasted Malt, Dried Fruit like Apricot, Raisins, Sultanas and Figs, Heather-Honey, Dirty Earth, Orange, Dark Chocolate, Caramel, Cinnamon and Nutmeg       

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Plum Jam, Espresso, Rubber, Licorice, Leather, Smoke, Lemon, Vanilla, Grass, Oak, Walnuts, Tobacco, Apple, Pepper and Cloves.      

Finish:

Bitter-Sweet. The Bitterness increases somewhat towards the Medium-Dry end. I detect Toasted Malt, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla, Dried Fruit, Marzipan, Hazelnut, Oak, Slightly Sour Red Wine, Dirty Earth, light Smoke, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Pepper, Cloves, Aniseed, Tobacco, Roasted Coffee Beans, Walnuts and Licorice.    

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and on the Nose the Dried Fruit and X-mas Cake develop. I find more balance between Casks and Spirit. Palate and Finish do not really benefit from the added Water but a few drops won't hurt either.

Rating: 84.5  

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21  

Drinking Experience:

Good.

Conclusion:

The Blair Athol 12 Years Flora & Fauna is a well-balanced Sherried Highlander. I like the way the Sherry interacts with the other Aromas and Flavours. It is never overwhelming. I'm pretty sure Blair Athol uses some of their better casks for this Single Malt. It's not really cheap but if you like the Aroma/Flavour profile I can certainly recommend this Blair Athol although it might not be easy to find it. My only suggestion would be to bottle it at 46%. Still, next time I'm in the Highlands I will certainly grab a bottle! Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                   March 23, 2018



Some of the Pictures were taken during our visits to these distilleries in May 2014.

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