A dram for Xmas (anCnoc 16)

We visited Knockdhu distillery recently. It made me relish visiting distilleries. It had been a long day, and we still had a lot of driving to go, but it was well worth stopping off at Knockdhu. What really makes that distillery is the distillery manager; Gordon Bruce. A gentleman who is courteous, hospitable, passionate and hilarious. He didn’t mix his words and he left me with the impression that there was nothing else he would rather be doing. As he said: “sell anCnoc. It puts my kids through college”.

He also said “remember the mash is very important. People always forget”

But is the liquid good enough? Let’s find out!

AnCnoc 16 years old
Highland Malt 46% Abv
Buy it here

Nose: grassy, limes, lemons, and apple cider. Slightly peppery. It’s a dram for Spring turning into summer. Citrusy drams, pints of hoegaarden. If only it wasn’t minus 15 outside currently.

Palate: Quite different. Limes, peppery but with far less of the sweetness that is on the nose. Oakiness and the slightest hint of peat. Slightly sour.

Finish: Sweet and sour finish.

I like the 1994 and the anCnoc 12 more. The workers at Knockdu prefer the 16. I have to disagree. Here is the thing. It combines oakiness with sweetness and it is slightly peaty. But I don’t enjoy it. I think I just want sweeter fruitier whisky from Speyside. The popular opinion is that ‘classic’ Speyside is oaky and peaty. If that is the case, I’m  not the biggest fan of classic Speyside. Buy this as a gift for someone who’s palate is different from mine. Sorry Gordon. I’ll still sell the 12 for your college fund. I love it.




  1. Gordon is one of kind – a truly charming and engaging chap. If Inver House fitted him out with a distillery shop he wouldn’t have to rely on you to sell the juice, it would be flying out of Knock at a rate of knots. Knarly.
    As a tangential topic, your findings, Chris, call into question whisky ‘regions’, and indeed go as far as to discredit the notion. With an awful lot of people doing a lot of different things with their whiskies, the idea of quantifiable and consistent local styles is further problematized. I found it incredible how, on my tour, I could pitch up at Glen Moray one day and receive what was called a ‘Speyside malt’ and then wander round Benromach the next and taste something completely different, but still classified as Speyside. I tasted BenRiach 12yo the other night and thought: Yes, ‘classic’ Speysider, but then they peat and triple-distill now so what is ‘BenRiach’? Nowadays there is so much variety not only within ‘regions’ – just look at Islay – but within distilleries themselves.
    Fermentation times but most especialy the shape of the stills determine the essential character of a single malt distillery’s output (whether adorned or not by peat smoke or a tempranillo wine cask) in these days of centralised maltings and widespread conformity regarding cask type usage – not how close a distillery is to others.
    Knockdhu’s location: not quite entirely Speyside, not quite entirely Highland, is maybe a good place to start an argument as to the insularity of single malt flavours. It was hard for a romantic like me to countenance, but as a result of my travels round Scotland I came to suspect that terroir is an extremely tenuous concept.’A sense of place’ is applicable, as far as discernable flavour is concerned, only within the limits of the production plant itself. I’ll still day-dream about sea spray and seaweed, heather and hay, of course.
    Merry Christmas, guys.

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