anCnoc. What a strange name – it’s Gaelic for Knock Hill. What a delightful typographical introduction, a play on letters. Say it out loud. A-nock. It comes from the Highlands, at what was once known as the Knockdhu Distillery in Aberdeenshire. Since 1994 it’s been known as anCnoc, so that we don’t get confused with the Knockando distillery, which is owned by Diageo. anCnoc (how bad it feels to keep starting sentences without a capital letter) is actually owned by Inver House Distillers Limited, itself owned by a Thai giant.
The anCnoc 12 Year Old, then, is a highly respected whisky – which is saying something for the distillery’s standard bottling. It’s won fancy awards. Whisky guru, Jim Murray, describes it as “a malt that should adorn a shelf in every whisky-drinking home”. Well it’s on mine now, so what’s it like?
Colour: gold, jonquil through to light amber, depending on depth of glass/light.
On the nose: stunning. Mix of Viognier and apple wine. Dry cider. Really quite unusual for a whisky. Smack of citrus. Waft of rich, velvety butter. Sea spray – on the finish you’re left with the memories of a lovely autumnal weekend on the coast back in ’98.
In the mouth: now that’s very interesting indeed. A medium to heavy weight, gentle peat fire, bitter lemons, strong barley flavours, grapefruit. There’s much going on, and they’re not your typical flavours. So far reminds me of some of the Bruichladdich Organic whiskies or Islay series. Heavy wood and such a gentle hint of peat on the finish – like a smouldering camp fire. Later on, it simply settles into something that’s slightly plummy and very smooth.
And what a bargain – you can pick this up for less than £30, and it’s ABV is 40%. To me, that makes this most definitely a dram for a summer evening outdoors. It’s the sort you can share around with your mates without that niggling feeling that one of your better whiskies is disappearing fast.