Monday, May 13, 2013

New release - AnCnoc 22 years old

The east Highland distillery of Knockdhu have announced a new single malt release in to their core range - the AnCnoc 22 years old.  The new whisky has been predominantly matured in ex-bourbon casks, along with a small percentage of ex-Oloroso sherry casks.  It has been bottled at 46% ABV and is non chill-filtered.  The initial release will see 5,700 bottles appearing in selected markets including Denmark, Germany, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK and the USA.  The recommended price is £85 a bottle.

The AnCnoc single malts are produced at the Knockdhu distillery. Knockdhu (pronounced nock-doo) lies deep in the rugged countryside of the eastern Highlands, with the closest town being Huntly. The distillery is one of the most traditional in the Scottish whisky industry with no computers to aid production. Everything is controlled by the skills of the distillery workers and Knockdhu produces approximately one million litres of spirit per year.

Knockdhu translates as 'black hill' from Gaelic and the name of the single malts were changed to AnCnoc (simply 'the hill' in Gaelic) in the 1990s, so as to avoid consumer confusion with the similarly named Speyside distillery of Knockando. It was founded in 1893 by a company called Distillers Company Limited (or DCL for short). Production starting in 1894 and it is currently owned by Inver House Distillers, who also own the Balblair, Balmenach, Old Pulteney and Speyburn distilleries.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a dark golden yellow with a hint of amber and the nose has a lovely initial aroma - this is a combination of stewed apple, brown sugar and warming wood spices (think of cinnamon especially) that made us think of hot apple crumble.  Underneath is a distinct malty sweetness, along with some honey, vanilla and candied lemon which adds a tart edge.  There are also hints of toffee and honeysuckle.

On the palate, this feels quite light to begin with and is slow to get going.  Firstly comes some sugary malted barley and honey, which is followed by warming and woody baking spices - imagine cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice.  Further sweetness is added with notes of brown sugar and toffee.  As the palate develops, tangy citrus notes appear to give depth, complexity and a pleasant tartness.  This is similar to the candied lemon on the nose, but with some bitter orange added in.  A late note of caramelised nuts adds further interest.  Sadly, the lovely apple note from the nose does not translate on to the palate - this is a shame as it was very promising and our favourite part of the nose.

The finish is of reasonable length and after some early honey and malt-like notes, becomes quite savoury and woody.  There is a good mix of notes - toasted nuts, bitter orange, cinnamon bark and plenty of drying oak spice.

What's the verdict?
This is another good whisky from Knockdhu and it is good to see the portfolio expanding as the distillery's popularity grows. This 22 years old offers something a little different also, in that it exhibits the most expressive use of ex-sherry casks in all of the AnCnocs that we have sampled to date. 

If you like Ancnoc, or any other whisky in the lighter style, you should give this a go and see how the aromas and flavours change with the addition of a small percentage of ex-sherry casks.  Lovely stuff and reasonably priced against most other whiskies of a similar age on the market.

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