We are delighted to release our interview with fellow Fifer and Fettercairn's UK Brand Ambassador Andrew Lennie. Why Andrew loved travellng to Sweden and what his favourite drams are you can read in our following interview:
WDF: Hi Andrew. Thanks very much for your time today. For those who don't know you ... Could you please tell us a bit more about yourself: Where do you come from – career background etc. And how did you end up working for Whyte & Mackay?
Andrew: Thanks for having me! My name is Andrew Lennie. I am a Single Malt Specialist for Whyte and Mackay. From the age of 18 I was bartending in Edinburgh. My passion for whisky grew from here. The combination of history, storytelling and diversity that surrounds our national spirit fascinated me. I dipped my toes in the water, worked hard and never looked back. My first ambassador role was with the newly opened Lindores Abbey Distillery in Newburgh, Fife – The town where I grew up. I helped launch their wonderful Aqua Vitae into the world before being approached by Whyte and Mackay almost 2 years later. When the opportunity came along to represent Fettercairn distillery I jumped at the chance to work with some industry figures who I have admired and respected for many years as well as having an opportunity to celebrate a distillery which is yet to be discovered by many.
WDF: As Fettercairn Brand Specialist what is the brand's aim for the next 12months?
Andrew: We launched Fettercairn 16YO into the world only last month. This is the 5th bottling in the new range and is a limited release. This is a big focus now as well as planning some more new releases which will come out later this year and next. Fettercairn is still one of those distilleries many people haven’t heard much about because over the years it has provided malt for the blends. Now we celebrate a distillery with almost 200 years of history. A process story which is entirely unique and now a new range of exceptional single malts. Telling this story is my job and one I feel very privileged to have.
WDF: Looking into the distilleries products we find a 12yo matured in American White Oak ex-Bourbon casks, a 16yo aged in American White Oak ex-bourbon casks before being enhanced in select Sherry and Port casks, a 28yo aged in American White Oak ex-Bourbon casks, a 40yo aged in American White Oak ex-Bourbon and finished in Apostoles Sherry Cask and last but not least a 50(!)yo old aged in American White Oak ex-Bourbon and finished in Tawny Port Pipe. Please tell us, how is Fettercairn making sure that there is enough stock of an 50yo old single malt scotch whisky?
Andrew: As I mentioned Fettercairn historically predominantly produced single malt for blending. These new releases you mention, celebrate a new chapter in our history and everything which makes Fettercairn unique. On site we have 14 traditional dunnage warehouses which home around 30,000 casks. Some of which date all the way back to the early 1960’s. This treasure trove of undiscovered stock has been patiently waiting for its time to shine. As many other distilleries are having to take age statement off bottles due to a lack of stocks, Fettercairn is at a position to celebrate some bottlings boasting big numbers.
WDF: How would you describe the Fettercairn spirit, the heart of the distilleries success?
Andrew: The Spirit flowing from the stills at Fettercairn is full of tropical fruit flavours – pineapple, mango, coconut. These come from the unique copper cooling rings on the outside of each of the spirit stills helping add reflux and creating a lighter style of spirit. This was an innovation created by an ex distillery manager in the 1950’s by the name of Alistair Menzies. We are still the only distillery in Scotland with this process. The new make at Fettercairn is delicious to sip neat and a great starting point for great whisky.
WDF: How do you (and the team) see the future for Fettercairn Distillery? Is there any project in the pipeline? A special project we would like to know about?
Andrew: Fettercairn is almost 200 years old. Founded in 1824 it was the second legally registered distillery in Scotland after the excise act of 1823. What is also important is what we do to remain relevant and successful for another 200 years. Gregg Glass is one of our whisky makers at Whyte and Mackay and his ongoing work using Scottish Oak is really progressive and is an attempt to reintroduce the art of coopering back into Scotland.
As the land around Fettercairn is so fertile and rich for agriculture we are also working on a project with local farmers from the area but that’s as much as I can say for now!
WDF: What markets are the strongest for you?
Andrew: A big focus for me has been the UK but Fettercairn is now being well received all over the world, especially in France and Germany. One of my last trips before the pandemic was on the Viking Line whisky cruise in Sweden. A 3-day whisky festival on a cruise ship sailing between Stockholm and the Aland Archipelago, Finland. It was Fettercairn’s first appearance at the show and my first time in Sweden. Skål!
WDF: What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
Andrew: Now that the SWA have allowed Tequilla casks and Calvados casks to be used in whisky maturation I think we’ll see some more of those coming out. Lots of young distilleries about to launch their first single malts so some young malts will be coming onto the market. I think innovation and experimentation is important but what makes Scotch whisky so great is its history and its tradition, so finding that balance is crucial to our future successes.
WDF: Can we expect Fettercairn Distillery attending different shows for 2020/2021 in Europe?
Andrew: I really hope so! Attending shows is so important. Especially for a whisky ambassador. This is where we see the future of our industry and where we can celebrate our national spirit in the many ways it is perceived in different countries and cultures. Unfortunately, this year, my very busy calendar of travelling has been put on hold. So, for now I am enjoying some very nice down time and taking stock again. Rest assured when the shows are back up and running, I’ll be there, and I can’t wait to be sharing the delicious new bottlings we have coming your way this year and next.
WDF: How did the global pandemic Covid19 affect your job and what did change?
Andrew: I have been furloughed for a couple of months now. I have kept in close contact with my colleagues and have participated in many distillery sessions hosted by our ambassadors, whisky makers and distillers. There has been a real focus on our internal training and the team spirit is still strong. I can’t wait to get back out and about and back up to Fettercairn Distillery. Until then we continue to find creative ways to bring our whiskies to life over digital platforms.
WDF: As you might know... WeeDramFife will be hosting different sorts of whisky experiences once the lockdown is over. Could you see Fettercairn Distillery taking part in special multi-sensory events in Germany and also releasing a special bottling for the German market?
Andrew: Germany is a great market for us and one which I am very excited to get back out and visit when we can. Hopefully these experiences are something we can be involved in. As a Fifer myself I am, of course, very keen to be involved! In terms of special bottlings… That’s a decision for our whisky makers. Fingers crossed!
WDF: Last but not least .. What is your all time favourite dram?
Andrew: Can I pick 3? At the moment I am really enjoying the lighter side of whisky. I just finished a bottle of Mannochmore from the flora and fauna range which I thought was delicious and highly underrated. When I’m up north camping with my friends enjoying a dram around the campfire it would have to be Ardbeg Uigeadail…. but for that desert island dram and my absolute favourite - special moment whisky - it has to be Fettercairn 28yr old. I have never tasted anything like it. You could pour me 1000 whiskies and I’d be able to pick this one out on the nose alone. Loads of funky tropical fruit turning into chocolate and coffee on the palate. A wonderful example of how Fettercairn matures in ex bourbon American White Oak. There’s no beating it!
WDF: Thanks very much Andrew. We look forward to see Fettercairn's future bottlings getting released. Slàinte