The classic images to place alongside a whisky are ones of windswept moors or waves crashing into rocks. Whisky depicted as the drink to warm you beside a roaring fire; preferably reclining in your best Chesterfield, in the drawing room. Bit clichéd, isn’t it?Now, as much as I like the fiery pepper of a Talisker or the smouldering peat of an Ardbeg when a February chill gnaws at you the day after Spring seemed to pop its head out to say “Here I am!”, aren’t those standard images going to hamstring the sales of whisky when warmer days arrive? Can we find something to suit Spring? Is there even such thing as a Summer dram? Of course! They’re just not that easy to spot, but on this latest Twitter whisky tasting (“Twasting”) of three anCnoc whiskies, I think we have contenders to drink alongside Vivaldi’s best-known work.
Excuse me if Knockdhu has been your favourite distillery for years, but I think a little background, here. The distillery’s name is Knockdhu (pr. knock-doo), yet the whiskies are “anCnoc” (pr. a-knock)? The renaming took place 1994, to avoid confusing Knockdhu with the similar sounding “Knockando” distillery. Sounds like a Friday afternoon decision, to me, Gordon Bruce, the Knockdhu Distillery manager, who is @anCnoc_whisky on Twitter, joined us for the hour or so we were tasting and kicked things off with the 12 year old, bottled at 46% ABV, the same strength as the two other samples. I don’t normally go in for giving lots of tasting notes, because it’s such a personal thing, but here I think you get these selected tweets give you a flavour of the event, although they are not necessarily consecutive. And may contain non-standard spelling. The anCnoc 12 yo
@anCnoc: Lots of tweets for fruity notes: pears
Me: @CashewLater Yeah, banana and vanilla. If you’re UK, Crunchie bars, anybody?
Me: @anCnoc_whisky Yes, it does really fall into the “elegant” category. Although what that is exactly, I find hard to define 🙂
@WhiskyTasting: @maltjerry I agree with that. Almost the dividing line between Highland and Speyside right there. This is def Highland The anCnoc 16 yo
Me: 16 yo less sweetly malty nose than 12 yo. @galg Yes even more grassy at first. Then white pepper
@DurhamFanDan: 16yo Nose. Lemons. Not just plain citrus though, but sherbet lemons!
Me: @DurhamFanDan Yes, sherbert lemons. Also, I love the idea of finding a summery whisky.
Me (about adding water): Threre is a spicy pepperiness I wasn’t expecting this side of Talisker. No longer a summer dram for me, but hey, it’s February! The anCnoc 1996 46%
@OliverKlimek: The #anCnoc 1996 really has a dry sherry nose
Me: Somewhere between amontillado and fino?
@ScotchNoob: …shortbread with stewed plums. Finish is savory.. copper pennies, browned steak, carmelized onions.
@Matlwhiskybar: I am thinking of Baked Beans. OK more complex but definitely some kind of spicy bean dish with meat.
Me: OK, cassoulet, then. Four Seasons in an Hour
Tasting the anCnoc 16 year-old without water woke up my “looking for a summer whisky” mission; fresh and dry with a touch of gentle sweetness and spice. But one swallow does not a summer whisky make. And just like a Scottish Summer, a few drops of water can throw you back into a chilly spring day. The pepper and chili heat will see you through. To call the fruits and sweetness of the gentler 12 year-old autumnal is perhaps a bit of a stretch, but it’s luscious mouthfeel might suit a cooler day. But to keep it, I’d steer clear of adding any water. This seemed such a different dram to the 16; it seemed they were from different distilleries. Adding water to the anCnoc 1996, suddenly I could see the gap between the 16 and the 12 year olds.
The 1996 had some of the most surprising comments about flavour and smell I’ve read in a while. But if cassoulet, copper pennies and peanut butter sound odd things to have “in” your whisky, save it for winter to sip with a warming stew.
Links and extras
If you want to see all the notes, comments and links to other write-ups of the this Twasting, search on Twitter for #anCnoc.
The anCnoc website: http://www.ancnoc.com/#doc-ancnoc