I searched for a metaphor or a story for this one, but I kept getting pictures of children playing or rosy-cheeked harvesters in fruit trees, singing, or dew on a shining gold orb in a garden at dawn – none of which convey the sophistication, palpable age and clean delight of this single malt.
So – first things first.
Though Knockdhu, the maker of the AnCnoc single malts, is a Speyside distillery on the eastern periphery of that storied region, one would be forgiven in a blind tasting for assuming this was a Lowland whiskey from a Lowland distillery open to the sea-spray on the coast of Fife, say.
But it is not that. Not at all.
Knockdhu is located squarely in the Speyside region, in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, about 20 miles south and a good 40 miles west of the North Sea coasts and nearly equidistant between Elgin and Aberdeen.
Still, it has Highland region character as well. In fact, this single malt combines the best characteristics of the best Clynelish and Auchentoshan malts that I have had while displaying none of the weak or disappointing traits I often find in Clynelish and Auchentoshan whiskies – of which my experience is limited, I admit.
What we have here with the anCnoc 16 is something complex but clearly structured, resinous, with a light fruitiness, tea, melting sugar, a spicy maltiness, some creamy vanilla, mild apricot, some nuttiness…
And the wonder of it is: Nothing you perceive in the nose or the taste of this whiskey appears to arise by accident. The bitterness is refined, for example, integral to the spirit and not an unintended consequence of maturation or an imperfect cask. This is excellent whiskey by design – you can taste the care that went into its making, where science meets alchemy under the attentive gaze of people who know exactly what they’re doing!
It has a gently sweet clement fruitiness and lots of salt. A wispy floral touch, but mostly fruits like pineapple, lime and other summery sweet fruits. A sliced apricot on the table but not under the nose. And salt.
On top of this, the nose gives off something a bit woody, like masticated, resinious slivers from the core of an old fruit tree.
On the palate, that woodiness shows itself in the tannins that mix with the mild sugars and warm spice – mostly ginger but also a bit of hot pepper – the taste, not the heat. Tangy, spicy, like a homemade sweet and sour sauce.
This is really a delightful whiskey. The finish is long, flavorful, spicy and sweet. Salted, melting pineapple ice cream sprinkled with savory spices…
Check it out: http://www.inverhouse.com/distilleries-knockdhu.php