It’s strange, the superstitions we have.
We fear that we’ll be cursed with bad luck if we don’t adhere to certain rules that make little sense. Saying “bless you” when somebody sneezes, refusing to walk under ladders, not putting an umbrella up indoors, or believing that breaking a mirror will result in seven years of bad luck. These irrational fears afflict many of us.
North Star appears to have a case of Triskaidekaphobia. The sharp-eyed amongst you may have noticed the independent bottler has jumped from series 012, straight to 014 in its single cask series. This Mannochmore I am reviewing was also bottled aged 12 years and 11.7 months. I understand where they are coming from; I don’t like it when my wife changes the TV volume and leaves it on 13! Although, they have bottled a 13 year old from Loch Lomond in this series, so the phobia can’t be that bad.
In my first review for Malt, I looked at a single malt from Glenlossie, and I thought why not make one of my next reviews a whisky from the Mannochmore distillery, which sits on the same site? It has a neatness about it.
Mannochmore was built during a boom period for the industry in the early 70’s, when more single malt was needed to supply the demand for blends. At the time of its opening, Mannochmore was run by John Haig & Co and used for their blended whiskies. Under Diageo it is also used for their blends, such as Johnnie Walker.
The spirit made at the distillery has a light, floral, and fruity character, due to factors such as the clear wort they produce, and long fermentation times. The shape of the stills – with their wide bodies, tall, conical necks, and long lyne arms – creates a lot of copper contact. When the spirit re-condenses, this holds onto the heavier elements of the spirit and helps create those characteristics previously mentioned.
Just like its older sister, the only official Mannochmore bottling from Diageo comes from the Flora and Fauna range, in this case as a 12-year-old. There have been a few special releases, but they are few and far between. Mannochmore was famously the single malt masked by heavy charring and heaps of caramel colourant in Loch Dhu. I never got to try it, but I’ve heard many more negatives than positives. It does have its fans, and bottles sell for decent sums of money now. I guess the nearest thing to it these days would be Beinn Dubh, which is produced by Speyside distillery. I might pass on purchasing a bottle of that for now.
Like all the whiskies in the series, this Mannochmmore comes from a single cask, presented at cask strength, and with natural colour and no chill filtration. It has spent all of its time in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead and produced 299 bottles. It is available from The Whisky Exchange for £46.95.
North Star Mannochmore 12 – Review
On the nose: Confectionary – orange Chewit sweets. Honeyed peaches and cream. Nasturtium and rose petal florals. Lemon zest with herbal notes of thyme and basil and a hint of deep heat.
In the mouth: Sweet, juicy and effervescent with a nice viscosity in the mouth. Pure orange juice with fizzy lemonade is the first thing that comes to mind. This is a drink that takes me back to summer days in pub beer gardens with my parents as a child. There’s blackcurrant in there too along with Chantilly cream, hazelnut and almond. The creamy, nuttiness remains throughout the drying, bittersweet finish, along with apple, ginger, black pepper and salt.
The palate, in particular really struck a chord with me and took me back to a moment in time. I love it when a whisky can do that. It is very fruity and full of flavour. It is on the sweet side of the whisky spectrum, which is absolutely fine for my tastes, but I know some people aren’t always so keen. For 12 or so years in a refill hoggy to have produced such great flavour, it was clearly a fairly active one.
I have tried several different bottlings from North Star and have yet to be disappointed. It’s great when you can rely on an independent bottler to not sell something sub-standard, and I believe that is the case with these guys. This claim that can be backed up by the string of very good scores by various reviewers on Malt in the past.
Less than £50 for cask strength single malt whisky with a 12-year age statement is pretty fantastic in my book. If it were a bad cask then that might as well be money down the drain, but thankfully North Star has chosen well.
I’ve had that Beinn Dubh. It’s dark as night. If I didn’t know better, I’d have mistaken it for crude oil.
How did you find the taste? I’m not sure how much of the crude oil appearance is down to caramel, and how much is down to very heavy barrel char.
This Mannochmore seems incredibly good value. As mainstream distilleries continue upping their prices, could it be a sign that some independents have spotted a true value opportunity opening up in the market? It’ll take more than one swallow to make a summer, of course.
Quite possibly Paul, although the price of independent bottlings continues to rise rather noticeably too. I think the distilleries are realising the value of their product, and it is becoming difficult for independents to buy good whisky cheaply. That’s why a lot of independent bottlers are releasing more younger whiskies, often under 10 years old. This one is indeed really good value in today’s market.
I’ve been very impressed with North Star recently, indeed they won the Independent Bottler of the Year at the Scottish Whisky Awards 2020. This bottle is particularly good value, it’s like a pack of Starburst! At the price I wondered if there might be some flaws but I’m very happy and I’ll be exploring the range further I’m sure.