At 42% abv, we couldn’t help but wonder: might this be cask strength after an angel’s share frenzy? It certainly smells like it could be. The nose is a Rudolph beacon on a stormy night. It’s a bit like making a cask-stave chair out of a Sherry butt without drying it first–and then immediately sitting in it with pants made of paper towels (waste not, want not). Imagine apricot syrup poured into lilac blossoms. Now imagine oranges bred for thoroughbred racing. Now imagine those stud oranges hungrily devouring those lilac blossoms from a winner’s blanket laid improperly across its neck, perhaps because oranges don’t have necks (though oddly enough, they do wear suede straps for racing). If you have that whole image clearly in your mind’s eye, you have a clear sense of the nose here, even if that metaphor is a wee bit mixed up. (Some people offer guided meditations. We offer guided obfuscations. We find that it empties the mind just as effectively. It empties the bottle, too.)
The mouth is robustly viscous. Or maybe it’s viscously robust. But it’s definitely not viciously going for bust. There’s absolutely nothing harsh, funky, or sulfury in the least here: it’s just a perfectly baked tart waiting for the scoop of ice cream to set it off. The middle of the mouth is the sensation Elton John has every time he starts to sing. It’s bright and then fades to warming. It’s so harmoniously balanced, it begets wisdom. Oh, and winter fruit, for whatever that’s worth. People talk about the heart of Speyside, but this dram is clearly from the frontal cortex. There’s well-developed judgment here, like an elder statesman or a long-devoted and thoughtful spouse.
The finish, like the mouth, begins with a bright, high-register sensation that then transforms into something warm and cherishable. It’s like the perfect campfire, lit by a lightsaber. Or maybe the perfect cheeseboard after all the cheese has been eaten. That cheeseboard before you is gorgeous, with its crumbly detritus calling to you as you finish your Port. The finish is longly clingy, but definitely not clingly long. It’s quite like having trouble saying goodbye to a new lover. The overall effect is to induce contentment. It is Hobbiton during a feast.
On the scale of truly impressive things you didn’t see coming–
The Fettercairn 28 Year Old is a double rainbow—For some, it’s beyond gob-smacking, defying any sense of meaning, but suffuses them with beauty so intense they can do nothing but weep. For the rest of us, they are really, really cool, and unfortunately all too fleeting.
–Our thanks to Fettercairn for the sample!