Fettercairn 35 Year Old 50.2% (Scotia Royale) Bourbon Barrel 125 bottles.
Scotia Royale was an Independent Bottler that is indirectly connected to Glen Scotia. It was owned by the Loch Lomond Group from 1994 -2014. In 2014 Loch Lomond Group sold to UK based private equity management firm Exponent, and then in 2019 sold again to Hillhouse Capital Management - a global investment management firm (based in Asia). We cannot be far away from Starbucks Single Malt. Or are we there already?
“In the last five years Loch Lomond’s business has grown internationally, with overseas markets now representing 70% of the business, as opposed to less than 10% in 2014.” -scotchwhisky.com
I am getting off topic.
Scotia Royale only released about ~7 single casks right around 2012. This coincides with Glen Scotia releasing their official range with wrap around packaging featuring highland cows (disco cow bottles). So my best guess is that Scotia Royale was created to promote the return of an official Glen Scotia range. They went to the trouble of putting some of these into 750 ml bottles, so clearly targeting international markets (US). I am guessing again that the name Scotia Royale was used because it was already the name of an old dying blend in their portfolio. As for where these casks came from; I was told that these were purchased in market within a year to months of being bottled. The new owners in 2014 decided to focus on the brand, instead of bottling other casks. Besides that, Information is scarce, so if you can find more than I did, hats off to you.
This Fettercairn is a ghost. Not a single word about it on the internet. Fettercairn has a weak reputation amongst enthusiasts, but 70’s distillate seems to be well regarded. Serge even refers to all 3 1970’s Old Fettercairn he has reviewed as “Clynelish-esque”, and rates them all 91 points. Plus it’s a Bourbon Barrel, and with a decent price the pros outweighed the cons, so I bought one. Curiosity got the best of me and I opened it right away...
Nose: (92) Straight out of the bottle there is a sour/lactic note. Like a Belgian Lambic, or cider. It dissipates with time and you’re left with lots of old bottle flavours like, old waxes and polish, tapioca, honeycomb, sponge toffee, papaya, bruised mango, bruised red apples, yellow plums, old paint.
Palate: (92) Full mouthfeel, bright, paraffin, honeysuckle, vanilla pudding, old lemons, lacquer, varnish, mirabelles, apples, all sorts of yellow and green fruits. Firm oak structure, but pleasantly so. You can’t be against this.
Finish: (92) Very fruity like an old Tomatin, fairly long with exotic fruits, old lemon, kiwi, mango, guava, passion fruit, melons, honey, waxes, some more old paints, a sprig of mint. Some firm oak, but not even remotely over oaked. Lovely stuff.
Thoughts: A rare score from me in that I like the nose, palate and finish all equally. They all are great and have their own charms. I’m not sure it’s the most accessible malt. But having had quite a lot of whisky over the years (this does not make me an expert, simply an enthusiast), it’s the uniqueness that stands out. There is no modern comparable. I have enjoyed pouring this blind to unsuspecting maltheads, because it’s really impossible to guess blind. This bottle has been open for a few months now and it just gets better and better. A little air time does some good. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s clynelish-esque, but some old waxes and melons are in there. Very fruity and very old school, a total dusty score. FETTERCAIRN!! Who would have thought.