Fettercairn is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland. It was founded in 1824 by Sir Alexander Ramsay, the owner of the estate on which the distillery is located. Read more about it below.↓
|Information about the Distillery|
2 x 12,800 l
2 x 12,800 l
8 x 25,600 l
|Average Tasting Notes||Calculated from 19|
Fettercairn has a fairly spectacular location, even for a Scottish single malt distillery. Tucked away between the foothills of the Grampian Mountains of the Eastern Highlands, it enjoys an outstanding view down the glen in which it’s located. The distillery has done a range of official bottlings, which include single malts aged 10, 12, 13, 14, 25 and 34 years. Independent bottlings do occur occasionally, but not with any regularity. The most recent independent bottlings were carried out by Douglas Laing & Company. Fettercairn is also used as an important component in the Whyte and Mackay blends, who owned the distillery from the 1970s until 2007.
In terms of the distillation process, Fettercairn has a fairly ideal location, being located right next to one of the highest mountain ranges in Scotland. This ensures that the distillery has year-round access to the extremely fine water accumulating from rainfall and snow melt in the springs and lochs of the mountains, from which Fettercairn draws the water used in its distillation process. The distillery’s current production capacity stands at 1.6 million litres of pure alcohol a year.
The Pot Stills
Fettercairn uses four stills in the production of its whisky; two wash stills which have a capacity of 12,800 litres, and two spirit stills that also have a 12,800 litre capacity. Both the wash and spirit stills have a distinctive pear shape, with the base of the still having an extremely wide and rounded spherical lid and a gradually narrowing neck, which can be fitted with plates at different heights to alter the degree of distillation.
Additionally, the distillery uses an unconventional cooling process to lower the temperature of the spirit stills; cold water is simply run down the exterior of the stills.
Fettercairn used its own floor maltings until 1960, at which point it switched to sourcing their malt from an industrial site, the same as many other distilleries around that time. Fettercairn uses unpeated malt.
Fettercairn has an impressive fourteen dunnage warehouses on the distillery grounds, which have the capacity to house 32,000 casks of single malt. The distillery uses a mixture of sherry and American oak casks in its aging process.
Fettercairn is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland. It was founded in 1824 by Sir Alexander Ramsay, the owner of the estate on which the distillery is located. The distillery was originally named “Nethermill”, named after the converted mill building in which the distillery started operating. Sir Ramsay decided to found the distillery following the Customs and Excise Act of 1823, which drastically reduced the amount of taxation placed on whisky production.
The management of the distillery was placed in the hands of a Mr James Durie, who later acquired ownership of the distillery himself. Responsibility for the running of Fettercairn passed from generation to generation in the Durie family, with Mr Durie’s son, David Durie, taking on the distillery after his father passed away.
In 1887, a fire raged through the distillery, destroying the vast majority of the equipment. The distillery had to close for the next three years for a complete refurbishment in order for the distillery to return to the level of functioning capacity needed for production, which basically involved rebuilding the entire facility. After its triumphant re-opening in 1890, the next few decades were extremely quiet at Fettercairn, eventually resulting in the closure of the distillery in 1926. Fettercairn remained inactive until 1939, when it was acquired by Associated Scottish Distillers Ltd, a subsidy of the American-owned Train and McIntyre. Production resumed immediately under the new ownership, and Fettercairn enjoyed the next few decades in a state of quiet productivity. During the 1960s the distillery experienced a boom in production, and the number of stills was expanded from two to four, raising Fettercairn’s capacity to its modern-day level. The 1970s proved a tumultuous decade for the distillery, with it changing hands multiple times as a result of various corporate mergers, eventually falling into the possession of Whyte & MacKay. During this time, Fettercairn remained one of the only active distilleries in the Eastern Highlands, many of its peers having closed due to the harsh economic climate of the 1980s.
Most recently, the history of the distillery took another turn when Whyte & MacKay were bought out by the Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya. In the wake of the 2008 credit crunch, Mallya decided that the brand would be more successful if it marketed itself as more “luxurious”, leading to the introduction of a 24 year old, 30-year old and 40-year old series to the Fettercairn bottling portfolio.
Fettercairn’s visitor centre was opened in 1989, and offers the opportunity to tour the distillery.