For our next whisky review we are taking a trip back to the mainland, and heading back up north, to the North Eastern Highlands. The whisky we are looking at today was not really visible as a malt until just a few years ago, and since then has come on leaps and bounds, claiming several awards and making a good name for itself. It is the product of the Knockdhu distillery, bottled as AnCnoc (a-nock), and today we are pouring ourselves a dram of the 12yo.
The Knockdhu distillery lies on the eastern fringes of Speyside, and is in fact very close to being a Speyside malt but is regarded as a Highland. The distillery is nestled below the Knock hill (Knockdhu means dark hill), known locally by is Gaelic name of AnCnoc, hence the bottles naming. The main reason it is not bottled as Knockdhu is because a little known company called Diageo own a malt distillery named Knockando, and so to avoid confusion decided to change the bottling name. Knockdhu was among the many distilleries that were closed by DCL in the early 80’s, but fortunately was sold to Inverhouse (now a subsidiary of ThaiBev) around five years later, meaning that we can still get this fantastic malt today. As I said, the bottling of this malt that we are reviewing today is the 12yo, I have tried some of their older bottlings and absolutely loved them so I’m looking forward to this!
A lovely sweet and aromatic nose with bags of character for a 12yo malt. It’s a very floral whisky, with lots of fresh flowers, honeysuckle and heather. This is followed by loads of fruity sweetness, not fresh fruit though, more like fruit flavoured sweets. Orange flavoured boiled sweets, barley sugars, pear drops and zingy lemon sherbet. With time it becomes slightly malty and nutty but overall the nose is delicious and sweet.
It is rich and mouth-watering; the palate is nowhere near as sweet as the nose, the cereal is much more prominent here with a nice spicy development. There’s also a fizzy citric note which again comes across as a sweet lemon sherbet. Overtime the flavours merge together forming a gorgeous lemon meringue pie-like taste, with apple crumble and vanilla custard accompanying it. This whisky reminds me of when you go to visit your Gran for dinner and she’s made five different desserts and throws them all onto your plate, then they all mix together making the mother of all puddings; that’s what this whisky reminds me of and it’s so good!
It has a nice sweet and spicy finish, with a good spirit kick to it too, which is quite surprising for being bottled at 40% ABV. It has a fairly drying finish, with seasoned oak, vanilla, and rich woody nutmeg; it is fairly short and light but is still very good indeed.
The AnCnoc represents a very fine non-sherried Speyside-like whisky; it’s got the classic Speyside fruity-sweetness going for it. As I said previously, I’ve tried several of their older whiskies which are just fantastic (and are far more sherried), but this younger, entry level bottling doesn’t let you down. For a 12yo there is a lot of character here which belies its age. For being bottled at the minimum of 40% ABV and being chillfiltered it does still have a lot of complexity to it. The price that you pay for this bottling (around £30) is very good for what the whisky delivers and I would have to recommend it for that price! To me it just represents the sort of classic Speyside style and it’s a sheer joy to drink.
Gary & Steven