Fettercairn 12 Years Review - Fettercairn 12 Years PX Review

“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”

Whisky Review # 852

Country: Scotland
Region: Eastern Highlands
Brand: Fettercairn
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 45-55  (January 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: Borderline okay.
Buying Advice: 😒Not really bad but Unbalanced and Thin. Try a sample first!

Colour: Golden (Artificially Coloured)


As so often, please give this Fettercairn sufficient time in the glass as it opens quite slowly. The Nose is Sweet, Buttery, Malty and slightly Meaty. A bit of Fruit as well. I find it a little on the Thin side. The Alcohol is noticeable. An okay Nose I suppose but you don't have to wake me up for it!

Main Aromas:

Toasted and Malted Sweet Barley, Butter Biscuits (Butterkekse), Vanilla, Yeast, Tutti-Frutti Candies, Charred Pineapple, Banana Ice Cream, Milk Chocolate and Citrus Peel.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Caramel, Toffee, Charred Oak, mildly Bitter Almonds, Marzipan, Forrest after a Rain Shower, Apple, Pear, Apricot or Nectarine, Caffe Latte, Sour Yogurt and Wet Paper.


The delivery is on the Thin side. This Fettercairn really could do with a higher ABV. A Mix of Bitter, Sweet and Sour notes. Not quite my thing!

Main Flavours:

Malted and Toasted Barley, Burnt Toast, Yeast, Banana-Flavoured Yogurt, Oak Char, Charred Pineapple, Caffe Latte, Milk Chocolate, Bitter Herbs, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cloves and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Caramel, Sour Berries, Sour Orange-Juice, Dried Fruit, Damp Wine Cellar, Almonds and Baked Apples sprinkled with Nutmeg.


Short/Medium-Long, Thin, Malty, Yeasty, Meaty and Spicy. I find Malted/Toasted Barley, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Charred Pineapple, Banana-Flavoured Yogurt, Bitter Herbs, Charred Oak, CaffeLatte, Milk Chocolate, Almonds, Heather-Honey, Red Apple, Dried Fruit, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger & Menthol. A bit of Floral Perfume after a while.

Drinking Advice:

Due to the small size of the sample I only tasted this Fettercairn neat. I would imagine that added Water is not required. It's Thin enough as it is.

Rating: 78

Nose: 20.5  - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 19 - Overall: 19.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay at best.


The Fettercairn Distillery was founded in 1824 by Sir Alexander Ramsay and is located in Fettercairn, Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire in the Eastern Highlands. It changed hands many times in the past but mainly belonged to Whyte & MacKay that was bought by Emperador Inc. in 2015. The two pairs of stills produce around 1,5 million litres of Alcohol per year. The core range exists of the 12, 28, 40 and 50 Years.

The new core range was launched in 2018 to put Fettercairn back on the Single malt map. As known, this Malt is mainly used for the Whyte & MacKay blends. I must admit that this 12 Year old does not do a lot for me. Lots of Barley, Yeast, Butter and Dairy. A rather unbalanced mix of Sweet, Bitter, Sour & Spicy notes. A higher ABV could certainly help out and 43% should be possible without a significant price increase. I already think it's expensive for a relatively unknown Single Malt distillery. We visited Fettercairn in May 2019 and it's certainly well-worth the effort of getting there. Wonderful small and picturesque distillery. The visitor accommodations are still rather primitive but the Tour is quite nice.


Whisky Review # 853

Country: Scotland
Region: Eastern Highlands
Brand: Fettercairn Pedro Ximenez Sherry Cask Edition
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon casks with a fairly long finish in PX Sherry casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: Around US$ 70 (January 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Way too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: 😞Negative. The Nose is okay but Palate/Finish are too Thin.

Colour: Amber (Artificially Coloured)


Rather than repeating the Aromas and Flavours already mentioned above I will simply look at the extra or different notes that come with the PX Finish. The Nose remains on the Thin side but Dark Red Fruit and Dried Fruit notes appear. The Alcohol seems better integrated although I can't really explain that. This is more mainstream than the 12 Years that has a few funky sides.

Extra Main Aromas:

Dried Fruit (Raisins, Sultanas, Apricots, Plums), Rose Water & stronger Orange Aromas.
Extra Supportive Aroma Accents:

Grapes, Damp Cellar, Red Berries, Cloves and Nutella.


Is this a Single Malt Whisky? It's way too Thin and Watery for my sake. It's a bit Softer than the regular 12 years but certainly not better. There's some extra Red Fruit but it's so Thin it feels artificial. This PX Finish didn't work out very well.

Extra Main Flavours:

Damp Wood, Rose Water and Papaya.

Extra Supportive Flavour Accents:

Floral Perfume, Cherry-Flavoured Candies and Licorice.


Short, very Thin, almost watery and Bitter-Sweet. This almost reminds me of a Watery Rose Water or watered down Floral Perfume. Hints of Milk Chocolate, Red Fruit, Damp Wood, Ginger and Licorice. Utterly forgettable!

Drinking Advice:

Due to the small size of the sample I only tasted this Fettercairn neat. I would imagine that added Water is not required. It's Thin enough as it is.

Rating: 73

Nose: 20 - Taste: 18 - Finish: 17 - Overall: 18

Drinking Experience Neat: Below Average.


The 12 Years PX Finish was released in 2019 and destined for the Travel Retail sector. It's basically a standard Fettercairn Single Malt with a quite lengthy PX cask Finish. I'm not quite sure how long it was finished as sources mention as low as 6 months and as long as 2 years. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle as the PX influence is noticeable but not overly strong.

As you can read above, I don't think that this PX Finish Edition worked out well. It misses Strength and Character. A higher ABV and more active PX casks could do wonders here. As it is, I feel that this is not the way forward for this beautiful distillery. Both the 12 Years and in particular this PX Finish can't compete Aroma and Flavour wise with the Highland competition. And they are too expensive for what they offer. If you want to get away from your Blended Whisky image you have to come up with a solid, flavourful entry Malt at an acceptable price level and build your way forward from there. I wish Fettercairn all the best and hope the new owners will take this next step.


Jan van den Ende                                                               January 14, 2020

All Pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

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