This distillery seems to be quite heavily championed in the ‘underground’ whisky circles. Whether or not it deserves this flag-waving will ultimately be decided by you, hopefully supported by a few notes below, but let’s cover a little business first.
anCnoc is not a distillery. It is the name of the whisky produced at the Knockdhu distillery. A similar approach has been taken elsewhere (think Glengyle producing Kilkerran), but in the case of anCnoc it is in support of a rather odd rationale. Apparently the powers that be (owners Inver House, that is) decided that the name Knockdhu was a little too close, either phonetically or in terms of readability, to another Speyside distillery, Knockando.
Not sure about you, but I don’t confuse quite that easily. A name change over this? Really? In an industry that so prides itself on tradition and historicity? Whatever, I guess. So long as the juice in the bottle is quality stuff they could call it ‘Hobo Bath Water’ if they like.
By the way…proper pronunciation is ‘anock’.
The anCnoc 16 is now fairly readily available ’round here. For a while we were limited to the 12 year old flagship expression, but it seems the 16 is now quite adeptly settling in as a welcome invasive species. Nice to have a compare and contrast release from the distillery. Vertical tastings (multiple releases from the same distillery) are the best way to assess the true character and inherent quality of the distillery’s output. Two releases does not a vertical make, but at least there is a point of comparison.
anCnoc 16 is a malt that fills many of the holes of the 12 (or at least offers a counterpoint), while at the same time still being slightly outshone by some of the surprisingly vivid highlights of the 12. Some of the fireworks act from the 12 year old has dissipated a little here in the 16, but where the excitement has faded, the balance has become a little more stable. This is a creamier dram than the 12 but whether or not you necessarily find it a better drink for it…who knows.
To me, this whisky borders on what I would blindly guess as a Lowland malt, and yes…I belive is slightly more charming than the 12 year old.
Nose: Creamy. Floral (freshly picked meadow flowers). Custard and white chocolate. Pepper. Blueberry. Lemon and orange. Hints of carrot cake.
Palate: Caramel drizzled fruit in a bowl of milk…served up in front of the breakfast bouquet. A few bourbon notes. Medium finish and slightly better than the 12, which tends to ‘grain out’ a bit in the end. Do note though…this does still have a bit of that bitter barley fade. Knockdhu is really not the best distillery when it comes to the finish on their whiskies.
Having said that…I look forward to trying more from the distillery. Especially at advanced age, if possible.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: anCnoc