AnCnoc’s 125th Anniversary: 16yo Cask Strength & Peat

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This year marks 125 years since the Knockdhu distillery was established, nestled in the Black Hills in the Eastern Highlands. Since its inception in 1894, not too much has changed at the distillery – there’s very little automation and production is still very much “hands-on”, which means the strapline for the brand, ‘Modern Tradition’, is really quite apt. Whisky from the distillery is bottled under the AnCnoc brand, to avoid drinkers confusing the whisky with that from nearby Speyside distillery, Knockando.

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the distillery, AnCnoc have released two new expressions, a cask strength 16 year old, and a peated expression, Peat, which is created using barley peated to 40ppm. The 16yo is matured entirely in ex-bourbon casks, whereas Peat is finished in ex-sherry butts. I was quite saddened when the ‘old’ 16 year old was discontinued a few years ago, I thought it was a pretty cracking dram and so this return, of sorts, really piqued my interest when both expressions were launched at Royal Mile Whiskies’ Whisky Fringe last month. I managed to sneak away a sample of both whiskies from the festival (thanks Betty!), so we’ll taste both today.

Commenting on the news, AnCnoc Distillery Manager, Gordon Bruce, said: “To be celebrating 125 years of making exceptional whisky is a real achievement. The traditional methods that make our whisky so special are still in use today, but we’re constantly innovating to offer a fresh take. It’s this combination of tried and tested means with a contemporary twist that makes AnCnoc, and Knockdhu Distillery, one of the best places in the world to work – we have a lot of fun here. I’m lucky to have a seat at the helm of the distillery in such an exciting year, and it’s an honour to the whole team to be able to oversee these two very special limited editions.”

AnCnoc 16yo Cask Strength
500 bottles
56.3% ABV
£99.95 here

Nose: Edinburgh Rock, candy sticks, lemon icing, bubblegum and coconut. Slightly floral too, with faint lavender, angelica and daffodils as well as orange oils, and fresh sawdust.

Palate: Really creamy vanilla, barley water, sponge cake, fresh laundry and white grapes. Then a real citric note – lemon peel, kiwi, pineapple and fresh ginger. Green wood too.

Finish: Tingling white pepper spice, fresh hay and some fresh oak.

AnCnoc Peat
40ppm
500 bottles
46% ABV
£79.95 here

Nose: Clove, cinnamon stick, dark chocolate, and polished oak. Then some black banana, melted caramel, charred marshmallows on sticks and rolling wood smoke. There’s a faint herbal, leafy note too.

Palate: Espresso, more dark chocolate, toasted raisins, sweet leather and a sooty smoke. Some BBQ notes and cask char too. There’s also a nice juiciness, with blackberries, dark cherries, dates and stewed plums.

Finish: Firm oak, coffee liqueur chocolates and a gentle smouldering bonfire.

Overall: Well, the 16 year old is delicious. Like, really delicious. It’s like the old 16 year old but on steroids – loads of fresh citrus, confectionery sweetness, and rounded floral notes, tempered by gentle zingy spice and soft oak influence. Very impressive liquid. Peat is also very enjoyable, with an sweet earthy smokiness balanced with rich, juicy, dark fruits. Two very different, but very impressive whiskies. The price points will certainly raise eyebrows – nigh on £100 for the 16yo and £80 for the Peat is pretty steep, but how many times does a distillery celebrate its 125th anniversary?

 

 

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