Fettercairn Whisky Distillery & Story
Fettercairn whisky distillery is situated in the fertile Howe of Mearns on the south east slopes of the Grampian Mountains. This distillery produces a Highland region malt whisky.
Located on the western side of the village of Fettercairn (fett-er-cairn) approximately five miles from the A90, Dundee to Aberdeen road.
The Fettercairn whisky distillery house style is for a soft creamy malt whisky.
How the Fettercairn story began
The Fettercairn whisky distillery founded by Sir Alexander Ramsey, local estate landowner.
In an area popular with illicit distillers and smugglers as the locality provided them with the barley and the water for distilling and the mountains gave excellent hiding places to evade the Excise Officers.
The local landowners turned a blind eye to the illegal distilling as the practice provided an outlet for the barley grown on their estates and so in turn paid their rent.
When the 1823 Excise Act was passed, Fettercairn became the second distillery to be licensed by Sir Alexander Ramsey the owner of the Fasque estate. He converted a corn mill on his land into the distillery going into production by 1825.
During 1830 Sir Ramsey was in financial trouble and forced to sell the estate for a reported £80,000 (=£7.94million at todays values) to a John Gladstone.
When he died in 1851, his eldest son, Thomas Gladstone (Brother to 3 times Prime Minister William Gladstone) succeeded to the Fasque Estate.
Prime Minister William Gladstone was influential in passing legislation to alleviate taxes on the ‘angel’s share’.
In 1887 the sitting tenant, David Durie, surrendered the lease shortly afterwards part of the distillery was destroyed by fire.
For two years the distillery lay silent until Sir John Robert Gladstone became laird. He was prepared to assist a new tenant by investing a considerable sum on rebuilding. However, it was decided that the formation of a company to take over the running of the distillery would be best.
In 1890, Fettercairn Distillery Co. was formed by a combination of local farmers and London merchants. The rebuilding was completed and Fettercairn was back in production. The distillery prospered as the whisky produced was ideal for blending.
However licence and duty increases in the 1909 budget hit the distilleries hard and in 1912 the company was placed into liquidation. John Gladstone bought the distillery and by the end of the year a new company was formed.
At the start of the 1920s prohibition and temperance was severely affecting whisky sales both home and abroad and by 1923 the Fettercairn Distillery Company was in liquidation.
Although the distillery was leased again in 1924, production was very limited and the company folded closing the distillery by 1927.
On the death John Gladstone, James Mann became estate factor and canvassed several possible purchasers – including Arthur Bell & Sons and Scottish Malt Distillers, to no avail.
So the decision was taken to dismantle the distillery. On hearing this James Mann was approached by Joseph Hobbs, working for Train & McIntyre.
He had purchased Glenury Royal distillery at Stonehaven and was looking to buy several more. Initially deterred by the high asking price, he did finally purchased the distillery for £5,000 in January 1938. (£303,000 at today’s prices)
Train & McIntyre was incorporated into Distillers Company Limited in 1953.
During 1960 the distillerys own floor maltings is stopped. Six years later the numbers of stills were increased from 2 to 4.
In 1971 the distillery was acquired by the Tomintoul-Glenlivet Distillery Co Ltd. Two years later ownership passed to the Scottish & Universal Investment Trust (Whyte & Mackay Distillers).
Fettercairn distillery visitor centre opens in 1989 the following year American Brands purchases Whtye & Mackay Ltd.
In 1996 ownership transferred to JBB (Greater Europe).
After a management buyout JBB is bought from Fortune Brands changing the name briefly to Kyndal Spirits in 2001, returning to Whyte & Mackay the following year.
United Spirits purchases Whtye & Mackay in 2007. Who themselves are acquired by Diageo in 2014.
Later due to competition concerns. Emperador Inc, part of conglomerate Alliance Global Group, buys Whyte & Mackay for £430 Million off Diageo in 2014.
Fettercairn Single Malt Whiskies
The core range was originally a 10 year old. This was replaced with the Fettercairn 1824.
This is now become the Fettercairn Fior and Fasque both No Age Statement bottlings.
There are limited edition 24 year, 30 year and 40 year old expressions.
Our Fettercairn whiskies
Take a tour of the Fettercairn Whisky Distillery
Fettercairn Whisky Distillery offers tour during the summer. There is little information from the distillery website. However was operating during 2016 season.
Best to confirm with the Fettercairn Distillery to confirm Tel: 01561 340244.
The Fettercairn Distillery
Founded in 1823-5 by Sir Alexander Ramsey.
Location; Highlands region, Eastern district, North of Brechin.
Water source; Springs on the Cnoc Calma.
Fettercairn Whisky Distillery Equipment;
Copper domed cast iron mash tun.
8 Douglas fir washbacks.
2 pairs of relatively small pot stills.
The spirit stills have water flowing down the outside of their necks to cool the vapours and increase the reflux. producing a lighter spirit.
14 onsite dunnage warehouses.
Matured in American bourbon and European sherry casks.