In the catering trade, we have the pleasure of dealing with our fair share of so-called influencers. To give just one example, a lady messaged to ask the restaurant to provide free food for her 25th birthday party. It was to be held in a hotel room given to her for social media collaboration, and she wondered if we wanted to take part too. If we had agreed to her terms, in return, she and two of her influencer friends would post photos of the food on their Instagram stories… free of charge! Wow… what a good deal, right?
I am not an influencer, or at least try not to be, but I can totally see why people could be influenced by what I have said. It is very easy to follow the crowd; we are sheeples, after all. Same with myself: I will go to tastings or sit with whisky friends where it is easy to be led to think a certain way. To combat this, I tend to ignore everyone until all of my notes are written down. I can be pretty unsociable at these events!
Today, however, I want to influence you in a non-influencer way! Blind tastings, I influence you to do more blind tastings! Admittedly, I have only been to a few, but they are probably the best events I have attended. To taste samples and not be swayed by the bottle, and to be able to hear true feelings and opinions of the attendees and see the reactions when the bottles are finally revealed—that is good stuff, my friend! Understandably, there may be pressure for people to guess what is what; but for me, it’s all good fun, with what I hope are delicious whiskies!
Jason made some comments to that effect in a recent live chat; he isn’t a fan of blind tastings, due to the expectation of being able to identify drams. I don’t really get that; maybe it’s a competitive “guy” thing… or maybe he’s just worried that he’ll say something nice about a Jura on record! However, the main point is, if you haven’t been to a blind tasting before, find one, or have one with friends. Each brings a bottle and pour without letting one another know what it is. It is so much fun! Of course, it might not be your cup of tea, but at least you’ve experienced it. For example, one day I will go out and try Fujikai 10-year-old, and see if it really is that bad! It is all about trying new things.
The whisky I decided to review is an anCnoc 18yo bottled at 46% and is available from Master of Malt for £73.81, also via the Whisky Exchange for £86.82, or from Amazon for £73.95. The brand belongs to the same stable as Old Pulteney and Balblair, both of which have gone through recent re-brands that included price increases (other people might use the word premiumisation). From the limited amount of these new bottlings, I’ve had the chance to taste that they haven’t improved beyond what was there before. If you follow the pattern, the anCnoc range is likely next on the list to be mixed up. That’s just a thought, though; when I sampled the anCnoc many moons ago, it was my favourite of the line-up. Being new to whisky, the price tag was more than I had budgeted, so I decided to pass on buying a bottle. Fast forward a few years to when I attended a blind tasting, and it once again was my favourite whisky in the line-up. Good thing, really, as I had recently purchased it for Pete to celebrate getting his doctorate.
anCnoc 18 Year Old – review
On the nose: sweet with honey, dried raisins, sultanas and sticky Medjool dates. It is almost like a rum and raisin ice cream with its creamy vanilla and alcoholic fumes. I detect blood oranges and candied peel, but also a bitterness akin to tea leaves that reminds me of both Lady and Earl grey with their bergamot and citrus notes. There are undertones of liquorice, fresh ginger and wet soil. Also mint chocolate chip ice cream comes through with toffee and butterscotch and the scent of an unlit cigar.
In the mouth: – sweet but not overly so. I get dried jujube dates, goji berries, sultanas and raisins. It is slightly tannic, as I get cloves and that numb feeling on the tongue you get from biting down on one, almost like you’re at the dentist’s. Hints of rubber. Surprisingly thin, but has an oiliness that carries the flavour round the mouth. Dry and oaky, but also creamy, with soothing honey and oats. A bitterness comes through with cassia bark, powdered ginger and burnt toffee sauce. The finish – medium to long, drying on the mouth with a citrus tang and warming to the throat. The tannins also gives the sides of the tongue a slight numbness. The flavour almost disappears but lingers.
This is a whisky I revisit quite regularly, and each time, it does not disappoint. Sure, sometimes, it is really enjoyable; and sometimes, it is just okay. That’s the beauty of it, though; there shouldn’t be that pressure of enjoying it the same amount each time. Hence, I encourage blind tastings. If you take the time and apply a bit of concentration, I think that blind tastings can help teach you a lot about your palate and what you like and dislike. There’s always a chance, of course, that the result will be unsettling. For example, you may really not enjoy a whisky that you previously thought was a firm favourite. In my opinion, though, there’s nothing wrong with that. Your experience of a whisky is subjective and can depend on so many factors, as I have pointed out several times already in other articles.
The lead image is from the Whisky Exchange and there are some commission links within this review which never influence our opinion.