A pair of “off-the-beaten-path” Old Malt Cask whiskies today…



Pronunciation: /ˈtʃalɪn(d)ʒ/

Definition of challenge

  • call to someone to participate in a competitive situation or fight to decide who is superior in terms of ability or strength: he accepted the challenge
  • a task or situation that tests someone’s abilities.

Today I was challenged to taste and review whiskies from distilleries I’ve had little, if any, experience with: Fettercairn and Royal Lochnagar.

While I can say with 100% confidence that my physical strength has not been challenged in any way, my nose and palate surely were.  Very few people can say they have had whiskies from these from these distilleries and I think I’ve had maybe one whisky from either of these producers.

Fettercairn only recently started releasing whiskies (Fior, a 24, 30 and 40yo) and Royal Lochnagar has a 12yo expression but is mostly used in blends such as Johnnie Walker Blue.

As with all Old Malt Cask bottlings we’re looking at the single cask (yet diluted to 50% ABV).

The provenance of the casks is a bit elusive.  They are both ex-hogsheads but the first liquid held in them is unknown as both are 2nd or 3rd fill.

Both whiskies are very light in color.

Let’s dig in and see if I’m up to the challenge!

OMC Bottle Shot_Fettercairn  16_v1Old Malt Cask 16yo Fettercairn 50%ABV Single Cask

On the nose –  A affront of dusty, sugary lemon flavored American Smarties.

Public pay phones (the smell of the receiver to be exact).  Dungeons and Dragons dice.  For those of you that don’t the smells of either of those previous examples, think of clean and hard plastics.  Not rubbery and pungent but clean and plastic-y.

Green and unripened apples and maybe some watermelon pith.  Quite unique.

OMC-2On the mouth –  This one actually tastes exactly like the smell so I’m going to focus on the texture:

Very oily, coating the center of the tongue and zapping the sides of the tongue and cheeks forcing my mouth to water profusely.

Finish – Drying and growing with white pepper-like spice then, drops suddenly.

In sum – This is very much an aperitif whisky, something to welcome friends with.  It’s not overly complex but it is enjoyable.

RoyalLochnager_300dpi_13inOld Malt Cask 14yo Royal Lochnagar 50%ABV Single Cask

On the nose –  Very much an elusive whisky.

You shy pup, come out and play!  Ok, ok… I’ll be a bit patient here. (taps fingers, looks at the clock, checks email, posts something cheeky on Facebook…).

Alright.  Are you ready for me now, little whisky?

Well, there’s some apple cider vinegar but it’s light in scent.  Some malt grist but again, light.

OMC-1Wait a mo, now you rear your head (did I mention I love that term?).  Freshly skinned English cucumbers in Saran Wrap.  Cucumber yogurt sauce (aka Raita).

On the mouth –  Much like the Fettercairn, this is candied like American Smarties.  More apple-like in flavor than lemon-like but there is some lemon in here now that I swish it about.

Tinned fruit cups with a focus on the tin.

Lightly oaked and just a touch of sandalwood.  This is almost gin like (minus any juniper).

Finish – Very short finish but drying as well.

In sum – Much like the Fettercairn this whisky is one to start your evening with.  It’s way too delicate to have after a meal or other drams.

Special thanks to all of the wonderful people at ISW for their help and samples!