Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Have just tried - AnCnoc Peter Arkle 2nd Edition

Back in the Autumn, we reported that the Highland single malt brand of AnCnoc (pronounced a-knock) had unveiled the second expression in a series created in collaboration with a renowned Scottish illustrator Peter Arkle. The partnership, which launched in April 2012, revolves around a series of limited AnCnoc single malt expressions presented in packaging designed by the artist. Matt T reviewed the First Edition when that was launched last Summer - click here to read his review.

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.

This edition features images created by Arkle of casks maturing in the darkness of a warehouse at Knockdhu, where AnCnoc single malt is made. The AnCnoc Peter Arkle Second Edition is matured in 50% ex-sherry Spanish oak and 50% ex-bourbon American oak casks, and has been bottled at a strength of 46% ABV. The whisky is currently only available in selected whisky retailers in Europe, Russia, the UK and the USA, and is priced around the £50 mark.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow with a hint of amber and the nose seems quite light initially, but very fragrant.  Sweeter aromas dominate to begin with - think of toffee, hard boiled butterscotch sweets and plenty of dried fruits, especially raisins and candied orange peel.  The combination is a little reminiscent of rum and raisin fudge.  Then comes some honey and vanilla, follwed by some late woody spice (imagine cinnamon and nutmeg).

On the palate it is the woody, drying spices that hit first with a heady mix of cinnamon bark, ground nutmeg, coconut husks and fresh oak shavings.  These give a fresh mouthwatering feeling which subsides as the softer, sweeter and fruitier elements begin to appear.  Notes of toffee, vanilla, heather honey, raisins, sultanas and candied orange are all replicated from the nose.  The combination with the drier wood spices is lovely and is complimented further by late notes of burnt caramel, toasted nuts and a hint of milk chocolate and clove.

The finish is of decent length and begins sweetly with the honey, dried fruits and toffee notes to the fore.  The milk chocolate note from the palate also becomes more prominent.  Then the spices kick in and the finish becomes much woodier and drier.  This is reminiscent of cinnamon and baking allspice in particular.  Some late tangy orange and clove give a slightly Christmas-like feeling.

What's the verdict?
The AnCnoc Peter Arkle Second Edition is an interesting whisky and an enjoyable easy-drinker.  The majority of AnCnocs that we have sampled to date have been on the lighter and fresher side due to the predominant use of ex-bourbon casks.  The higher percentage of ex-sherry cask matured whisky has beefed this up a bit and made it richer and sweeter.  Some of the more delicate notes that we have previously enjoyed with AnCnoc seem to have been lost.  Definitely worth checking out though.

No comments: