Monday, November 18, 2013

anCnoc 16 - The enigma dram I love so....

Since I've been profiling the men of Knockdhu these past few weeks, I thought it would be nice to revisit another post I did in 2012. 
AnCnoc 16 was one of those rare finds in a little liquor store that I was elated to buy. As a matter of fact I bought the last two bottles in eastern Canada. It has since become one of the staples of my collection and I really enjoy it a lot. 
Original blog, April 2012: I spend a lot of time researching, reading and combing the liquor store product lists across Canada and the US (It's like whisky porn!?). Living in Canada sometimes has its disadvantages as far as getting to sample new products as they become available on the world market because we often seem to be about 6 months behind. Canadian importation laws still date back to 1867 it seems and we can't purchase whiskies from overseas. I am fortunate that my “day job” takes me in many directions throughout our great BIG country and so when I know I’m travelling I will really scour the websites ahead of time in the event I might get my hands on something special. 
Case in point, recently I was scheduled to go to Halifax Nova Scotia for a few days so as always I did my homework ahead of time and discovered that one liquor store had the last two bottles, east of Alberta, of AnCnoc 16 (pronounced A-nock).  That’s 5042 km (3132 miles), our country is massive!
I had never had this particular whisky so I thought heck why not!?  

The price was really good, $65/bottle or roughly £40, so I called the store, asked them to reserve both bottles for me and that I'd be picking them up next day. On time and as planned bottles in hand we head to our hotel room. I’m a true whisky geek and love to open most of my bottles right away so we had an impromptu nosing/tasting. Whisky nosing in bed! Don’t knock it, it is important to try everything, at least once I always say. We had lots of fun taking pictures and then we got down to serious business (Whisky! Get your minds out of the gutter people!). 

I have to admit writing notes on hotel stationary was hilarious but we managed to get a good nosing/tasting accomplished, no distractions, I swear! 

As always, Graham and I do not discuss anything while we are nosing/tasting. It’s completely independent of each other and mostly in silence. 

A bit about AnCnoc -> Situated in the north east corner of Scotland, in the village of Knock, Aberdeenshire. The distillery name is actually Knockdhu. Silent at times (In the 30's, World War II and then in the 80's), it was acquired by United Distillers in 1983 with production resuming in 89' under new management. Inver House was encouraged to name their malt AnCnoc, which is Gaelic for "the hill" mostly to ensure that whisky imbibers did not confuse it with another Speyside distillery: Knockando.  

So in the mid 1990's with a new name, new packaging and new expressions, AnCnoc was launched.  

It's not the traditional whisky you see in every corner bar or restaurant and I gage most people new to whiskies wouldn't have a clue it even exists. I have to say although I had read about it, I had never tasted any AnCnoc or Knockdhu's, not even at whisky events. Was it because they were not showcased or because I didn't pay attention? I'll never know. What I can say is upon having tasted it and enjoyed a few drams for the shear pleasure, I was having a hard time putting it in a category that I could clearly describe to other whisky imbibers. Is it a Speyside: By the difference in nose and then palate I would say yes. Is it a Glenlivet, Macallan or a Glenfiddich: By no means, NOT EVEN CLOSE. Is it considered a highland? If it is, then it's quite distinctive in nature there too... So, who would I recommend this to?  

Hence the enigma... Knowing someone's preferences for whiskies is a very personal thing. In our whisky society there are 40 members, most of which I could probably guestimate where their "favorites" lie so this kooky whisky really had me stumped because of all the people I currently know that really love to drink whiskies there were only three I could think of that I thought might try this whisky and love it. And that's when the realization hit me: Maybe there is no true definition for this one? Maybe it's simply one of those whiskies that I could recommend based on the fact that it's meant to make people think out of the proverbial Speyside box? I know I certainly did for the better part of three or four days mulling it about in my head. 

So there, this is what AnCnoc 16 is: It's the whisky that simply seems to march to its own drum.  It makes you think and feel like you are tasting something quite different from the typical Speysides. I like that! 

If you are looking to go on a small whisky adventure and treat yourself to something completely different, I think you will find AnCnoc 16 will deliver and satisfy that itch.   
AnCnoc 16, 46%AVB, Non-chill filtered and no color added.  

Color: Pale yellow, like a lager beer. Legs are plentiful, very close together and stringy. Slightly viscous, runs slowly.

Nose: LARGE vanilla, clean "green fruit" like pears, green grapes. Oak, being outdoors like in a meadow. Very aromatic.  Sweet smell of summer, really.

Palate: Took time to coax the flavors out but once I did more pears, pungent spicy and a hint of plasticine (I must have eaten playdoh as a child?). Once I added water I got the flavor of delicious creamy lemon pudding. Very rich with a mouthwatering effect.  

Finish: Fairly long with more vanilla, clean cereal followed by spice.  

Empty glass: Now I can really smell the bourbon influence, still very aromatic and sweet.

I'd rate this quite highly as an affordable whisky that I would recommend or share with friends. ere's to thinking outside the box and enigmas!

Happy on the whisky trail!



  1. to me, this is a very approachable Highland whisky, with an oaky grassyness that makes it unique.

    1. Exactly! It's so different. I would love to give to a few people blind but provide them descriptors: i.e. Lowland - grassy, cereal. Speyside - fruity, aromatic, grassy, etc... and see where they place it as far as where they think it's from. It truly is unique...