This review will be the first of 3 reviews of bottles from the Independent Bottler 'Thompson Bros'.
For those curious about this indy bottler here is a blog piece: 88bamboo.co/blogs/…
Thompson Bros bottles first came to my attention when Whisky enthusiast and blogger Jason formerly of MALT and more recently Dramface reviewed a few of their bottles. I was intrigued by the unusual label designs on their bottles and then the whiskies themselves sounded pretty good from the reviews.
I brought this bottle from their website towards the end of last year. After winning a ballot. Pretty much all of their single malts, rums and other spirits are only available via a ballot on their website such is the popularity of the stuff they bottle. Although generally they have gins available to buy on their website and the 2 blends they recently launched (more on that in a subsequent review). So any Thompson Bros bottle I review on here will most likely be long gone by the time I right the review. With the exception of the blends.
The Fettercairn is the bottle in the photo with a unicorn on the label. I'd missed out on a few ballots before I got lucky with this Fettercairn and I've got lucky in a few ballots since. In fact Thompson Brothers are the only ballots where I seem to have a chance of winning. I can never seem to snag a Daftmill or Springbank Local Barley no matter how many ballots I enter! They have a newly opened bottle shop at the Dornoch distillery they own (it's emerged in the last few days that plans are afoot to expand the distillery). And their bottles do turn up at other whisky specialist retailers too.
Why are Thomspon Bros bottles so popular? Obviously, you are talking limited releases. A few hundred bottles (this Fettercairn is 1 of 508) to maybe as few as 50 or so. Then you have their reputation, which is pretty high in whisky circles. They evidently love whisky and make whisky for other people who like whisky. Then they tend to like experimenting with different casks and unusual finishes. I've lost the info on this Fettercairn but if my memory serves me correctly a recharred cask was involved at one point.
Anyway onto this Fettercairn. This is my first whisky from this distillery. The official releases haven't been inspiring, generally low abv, caramel added supermarket fodder. Although, apparently the official bottlings have had a bit of a makeover in the last year or so and are now much better.
The colour on this whisky is a really bright vibrant gold. It looks like liquid summer.
Nose - (neat) Lots of green fruit, Gooseberries, granny smith apples, kiwi fruit. Some marzipan, white wine vinegar, a little white pepper.
Palate - the arrivals has flapjacks and porridge oats. As it develops it becomes oaky and dry. The finish has burnt toast.
With water - (This can take a fair bit of water) water softens a slight heat from the high abv that was present neat. The nose is similar but I also pick up a sweet pastry note which I'll call brioche.
on the palate with water the whisky is not as sweet. It becomes more sour and savoury. The pastry note is there that was on the nose. But not as sweet it makes me think of buttered croissants. I also get a sensation of peat. This is unpeated. But I almost get a hint of peat with it which is really interesting. The development and finish are drawn out with water.
This bottle cost me £65 and is a great whisky for the price. It is quite complex and changes over time in the glass. II'd say it was a summer dram. Which is handy as I'm down to my last couple of drams from the bottle now which means it will be gone by winter.