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Issue 91 - Cometh the hour

Whisky Magazine Issue 91
October 2010

 

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Cometh the hour

Fettercairn has been at best ignored and at worst pilloried for many years now. But a fight back is underway. Dominic Roskrow follows a two year rehabilitation campaign

t sits on the very edge of the town of Fettercairn to the south of Aberdeen just as the houses dwindle away and the countryside takes over. Across the road rugged Highland fields stretch in to the distance and as you walk up to the distillery the cows follow you.

And on a late Autumn afternoon as watery sun shards slice through broody cloud, the distillery in front of you is impressive and majestic.

Today particularly so, because its owners have spruced it up and put up new signage. Fettercairn has a new look, a new image, a new taste and some new expressions, and today selected journalists are here to witness the beginning of the big Fettercairn fightback.

But you can't help thinking that it will take a darn sight more than a lick of paint to turn this one around.

I can think of no distillery which has been more pilloried than Fettercairn, and to some extent perhaps justifiably so. Its malt has been condemned for a distinctive taste which has been variously described as rubbery, sulphury and metallic. Some writers have been fiercely critical, not least Jim Murray, who has consistently berated it.

When the late Michael Jackson said there was no such thing as a bad single malt, Murray's riposte was: “has he tried Fettercairn?” So in these circumstances, is salvation for this god-forsaken place beyond the pale then, and a lost cause?

Owners Whyte & Mackay think not. Having spent some 18 months to two years discussing and debating the distillery with manager David Doig...

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