Tasting Notes: Fettercairn – 28 Years Old

We are approaching 5 years since the big rebrand of the Fettercairn range of single malts. Back in August 2018, Fettercairn came back to the scotch whisky shelves with a fresh, clean, and stylish look with some big age statements to boot: 12, 28, 40, and 50 years old! We were very fortunate enough to taste those malts at their launch – see notes here.

Since that time, the Fettercairn team have put out a fairly constant stream of new single malt releases and special editions which have filled the gaps in terms of their age statements along with those that have otherwise been kept mysterious, but no less collectible, via the Warehouse 2 series. The new core range stands at the 12, 18, 22, and 28 year old single malts, with the 16 year old being an annual limited release. The 40 and 50 year olds sit within the appropriately entitled “Old and Rare” collection.

For this post, we are revisiting the 28 year old core release, now sat at the top of their “core collection” in terms of years of maturation. This is bottled at 42% ABV and has been solely matured in American White Oak Ex-Bourbon Barrels.

Fettercairn 28 Year Old


Its years are not showing at all. The oak isn’t front and centre but it is just there supporting and lifting a load of fruit flavours. A sweet acetone/perfume note despite that tenure, bringing a light and fruity combo of mango, pineapple, orange zest, a little banana, cut apple and vanilla, with little hints of its age through oak spice and cask/dunnage/warehouse funk. A little meaty/savoury note underneath it all and fresh ginger acidity and spice.


A real tussle between young and old – the fresh fruits of sweet spirit (enhanced by bourbon influence) are there up against the hallmarks of time when you spend 28 years in a cask. Think sweet yellow fruits (melon, lemon, and pineapple) and vanilla, jostling with little flourishes of black pepper, mace, tobacco leaf, and that earthy, dunnage/warehouse funk. A strong nut and oak cask presence.


Medium length with a sweet and sour combo of tart apples, orange, and grapefruit, punctuated with nuttiness and spice.


An enjoyable and intriguing whisky. There are plenty of tasting notes above, and the whole thing brims with different influences – the young vs the old. It’s a testament to bottling well-aged whisky to ensure the myriad of influences and flavours can be harnessed in a coherent and balanced way.

A definite step up from the 12, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like it is more than twice that age – is that 16 years’ worth of improvement via bourbon cask? That’s not a negative comment. The 12yo is a lovely whisky to even stand as a starting point. It is ultimately testament to the spirit and the blenders choice. Fair play to Fettercairn too as the cask hasn’t dominated at all. The use of just bourbon casks and patience has created a real balance between the fruity spirit and ability of the bourbon casks to add vanilla, spice, and character that can lift the fruity profile of the originals malt – all of which are there, but then you have these older influences that can only appear through time, such as that dunnage/warehouse funk flavour.

If anything, this is the epitome of being a 28 year old: still showing characteristics of youth whilst flashing the badge of honour earned through maturation.



Sample disclosure: This sample was received by Whisky Unplugged as part of a tweet tasting event organised by Steve Rush @TheWhiskyWire in conjunction with Whyte and Mackay to promote the Fettercairn distillery. All notes above have been made as honestly as possible to reflect our own thoughts on the whisky. Please drink responsibly. Please drink wisely.

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