anCnoc - A Surprise in Store

John Bruce discovers anCnoc, a new (for him) Speyside single malt that leaves him wanting more ... and more

Many of our senses are recognised as evoking memories better than speech and I must admit that a great song or pervasive scent have often rolled back the years in my mind, especially when my senses have been piqued by a hint of Scotland’s greatest export (people excepted). This was brought to mind when circumstances conspired to introduce both myself and the publisher of this magazine to anCnoc single malt whisky of which I have to admit that I had absolutely no knowledge of previous to this month. That is the danger of joining the Scottish diaspora: one can easily lose touch with developments back home.

Appropriately enough for this publication, we were at a small golfing event and having myself won the award for taking the most shots, I thought, along with my companions, that it should be immediately sampled. It was a bottle of the 12 Year Old expression of the aforementioned single malt which is produced at Knockdhu Distillery in the village of Knock on the edge of Speyside, Aberdeenshire. The name comes from the Gaelic meaning “dark hill” as the shadow on the hillside often leaves the grass and heather appearing black.

But by contrast and like many Speyside malts, the whisky itself was light coloured and once the bottle was opened, the surprises came thick and fast. The nose is verging on floral in its aroma and also hints at the sweetness that would otherwise thoroughly surprise with one’s first sip. This was an incredibly smooth whisky and hints of citrus and dark sugar conflicted with each other to thoroughly delight our assembled tasters. The finish remained sweet but the final surprise was the length and strength of the fruit that lingered delightfully throughout the mouth. The anCnoc single malt is aged in American or Spanish oak barrels that have previously been used to mature bourbon or sherry and whichever is used for the 12 Year Old, the ageing and traditional distilling methods of Knockdhu have produced a whisky that has become an immediate favourite of mine.

The downside to such "group sharing" is the sharing part but I have already remedied that situation with a follow up purchase. Unfortunately, all that is available in Hong Kong at the moment is this 12 Year Old expression but its excellence ensures that I shall seek out others when I am next in Scotland. In fact, I may visit the Knockdhu distillery as, in contrast to the traditional methods employed to produce the whisky, the website offers some thoroughly modern instructions on using one’s sat nav device to locate Knock village.

Language is my opinion can often require brevity but at other, more thoughtful times, I revel in elaborate language and adverbs are an inherently necessary part of the process.

Knockdhu distillery has only two stills but given the delightful surprise that it has produced in the anCnoc 12 Year Old, I must believe that “small is beautiful” and I would argue that “beautiful” in this case is a thoroughly justifiable adverb.

Click here to see the published article.