Bottle polishing: Spring 2021, Part 3/4

Three more polished-off bottles today, all very different, and all excellent.

Fettercairn 16yo [2020] Ob. First Release 46.4% WB86.67[200] WF85

Another malt I’ve reviewed in the nick of time, that is, with the last dram of the bottle. That’s normally an indicator that I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly.

  • N: Straight in with a nutty [skin]~oily, squidgy malty, [soaked flower] floral = fruity [pineapple/lime] > slight copperyness, much of this whisky is about the vine-fruit cask influence, and yet, we’ve no obvious Patterson-isation here, no over-industrial syruped situation. It’s tasteful blending – less sherry bomb, more sherry involved – and with a slight fustiness that suggests there’s older juice in here than that 16-year age statement may indicate. That fustiness comes with walnuts – the bitter husky-yet-oily heart of – whilst Serge’s ‘plasticine’ and ‘ale’ observations are, as ever, significantly noteworthy.
  • T: So very Fettercairn in character, what a wonderful strange brew this is. Whilst easily retaining its raisin-spirit-legacy roots, again, there’s plenty of maturity here. On the palate, we’ve soft-sharp-dry raisin-y > lemon juice-d beginnings with a slightly carob ~ > caramel middle, a pinch of salt,… Becoming wonderfully raisin-oily /> jammy and gathering a salivating pace, we’ve a little coppery~waxiness with a slight cracked pepper/oatcake-oakiness on the turn.
  • F: Reminiscent of an old [W&M] blend, we’ve now just echoes of what has gone before, namely deep[-ish] waxy grape tannic oaky overtones. Limiting this one’s efficacy, it slips a little at the final furlong with a compromising dry grape gravy conclusion.
  • C: Easily the best affordable core range Fettercairn I’ve come across, it’s a bottle I’ve been reaching for with regularity. I can see this expression becoming the calibrator for the distillery’s future output, [bar those irregular £50000 out-turns] the expression by which all other core range Fettercairn’s could be judged.

Scores 86 points

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[Bruichladdich] Port Charlotte PC11 11yo [2013] Ob. Eòrna Na h-Alba [12000] 59.8% WB88.57[288]

A short while before wave [after wave] of barely-legal inaugural releases dominated our social media & auction site shores, the PC range was one of the ‘pop’ malts of its day [the PC5 being released in 2006]. At one point, PC11 commanded prices around the £250-300 mark [on the secondary], yet can now be picked up for £100 or less – you’re struggling to get a 3yo Glenwonka for that! I am surprised that whiskies from the PC range [and some Octomore’s, for example] haven’t even held their retail values, but then, some may argue that they were over-priced to begin with.

First impressions:

  • Taking into account the ppm, the abv, and all the ‘doctoring’/inventiveness, this chemical yet organic?! whisky comes across as soft and subtle – the quiet assassin = trouble,.. good trouble.
  • N: Very direct/up-front, this is [abv?]-sharp salty slightly onion-y and peaty. Months later, it’s become moreishly unctuous [oily/fatty/buttery].
  • T: Neat or not, we’ve ultra-focused squidgy-soft rocket fuel [not that I’ve ever come across the stuff], allium > grassy > vanilla-y > biscuity,.. a touch gacky~tannic/briny~oaky,… mezcal-like at times [but a Kilkerran 16yo did precede this]. In the middle stages, it seems to collapse like a sunken soufflé though rallies soon after. Seemingly very basic after a Caol Ila 25yo [WLP] and relatively non-eventful after an SMWS 16.35 [WLP], we’ve more allium vegetal peatiness,… [try 50% dilution],… Even after more Kilkerran 16 and then a Springbank 12yo CS, the last dram remains ultra-sharp, salty and oily,… unctuous remaining the operative word.
  • F: After a [rum-like] spirity turn [on mid, side & roof palate], there’s just subtle action, all firmly based around that chiselled, young & formidable peated spirit, but boy, that unctuous oiliness still bowls me over to the last. Furthermore, there’s really no talk of the cask mix [like there is now], this bottle from a time – just a few years ago – before wood policy became the dominant fixture [much like talk of the mash bill in other whisk[e]y circles].
  • C: Simple [in some ways], it took a while for me to ‘get it’. This is one brilliantly consolidated youthful malt with a wowing teeth-coating oily unctuousness.

Scores 88 points

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Old Perth 1977/2018 41yo Morrison & MacKay Blended Malt [515 bts] 45.3% WB89.95[42] Ralfy92 Ralfyextras

It’s funny how some bottles enjoy the limelight/buzz/hype – sometimes/often regardless of the quality or provenance of the whisky inside – whilst others do not. Even after Ralfy awarded this blended malt a mark of 92, surprisingly perhaps, this one has proved no gain for the flippers. All the better for the sippers then.

  • N: Though highly regarded greatly-aged juice for the price [in these times], £260 is still a very large sum of money for one bottle of whisky [by most people’s standards, including my own]. So much so, I initially offered this up as a bottle split. My plan was to take 10cl and share the other 60cl between three fellow Swaggers. On opening the bottle, however, I instantly had second thoughts as I intimated to my fellow potential ‘shareholders’ as the weeks into months rolled on. Most recognisable as old Bunnahabhain [not the Glenrothes? counterpart], we’ve those dunnage-y confectionary dried citrusy highly concentrated fruit [apricot, dates, fig, prune juice, Nocino,…] sugars that only being to emerge in fairly mature expressions. Despite some edgy spicy pepperiness, everything is in place and very laid back, bottled in [perfect] time before any rust spots have started to develop.
  • T: This is delicious whisky I wish to have around in abundance. It’s certainly sharp citrus > peppery/spicy, requiring a few sips to layer up the palate in order to best glean the fruits of maturity. As on the nose, those delectable aged sugars hark first before taking a plentiful citrus~sweet~ sour dry chalky > cream & bitter oak direction, fairly pronto. Add water for a somewhat thin-dunnage-y yet delectable boozy [strawberry-ish] fruit jam with some light dusty waxiness. Get the water ratio right for an increased malty dunnage quality.
  • F: With murky sour~bitter slightly waxy fungal/hessian bung cover/woody undertones, the acidic citrus quality remains an integrated part, the age-resilient bourbon [>sherry?]-matured spirit always the beating heart.
  • C: Away from contemporary whisky’s [84-87 point] quality cul-de-sac, it’s good to be reminded of the other side of whisky every now and again. Though far from perfection, every sip is utterly moreish, all those years of maturation giving far more than they compromise. Please, whisky gods, send me a bottle like this every few months. Thank you.

[Easily] scores 90 points

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END

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