The good folks at Woodman Wines and Spirits invited us to a tasting a while back to try a line-up of AnCnoc bottles available at the LCBO. After the event, we had the opportunity to share the whisky with a few of our members to pull together some group reviews.
AnCnoc is produced at a small distillery in the Highlands called Knockdhu, and is owned by Inver House Distillers. The distillery has been around since 1893, but the AnCnoc brand has only been used since 1994, to avoid confusion with the similarly named Knockando distillery.
The team makes a variety of expressions, including a series of peated malts celebrating the various tools used in the peated-whisky making process. Their core line-up however, features age-stated expressions and a variety of cask-types. We had the opportunity to try the 12 year, 2002 Vintage, 18 year and 24 year expressions, and our notes are below.
AnCnoc’s 12 year expressions is an ex-bourbon bottling at 40%. A fruit-forward type of expression that’s approachable for newer whisky drinkers.
Nose: Apples, fresh fruit salad, pineapple, green apple skins, citrus, pineapple, tropical fruits, pears, vanilla, floral honey, lemon peel
Palate: Apples, plums, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, tropical fruit, lemon peel, earthy, vanilla, light oak, malty, peach extremely faint “smoke” for lack of a better word – think barrel char or wood influence and not peat smoke.
Finish: Sweet orange, vanilla, spice, and floral notes, earthy, malty peach, lemon peel, honey
Overall, an incredible approachable dram with no off notes that’s approachable and enjoyable by whisky beginners or experts alike.
AnCnoc 2002 Vintage
Vintage releases is something that Inver House does a lot under its Balblair brand, but this one is fairly unique to the AnCnoc line. The whisky is aged in both American and Spanish Oak, and bottled at a respectable 46% ABV.
Nose: Vanilla, apricot, custard, dried fruit, nutty, plum, Honey, apple, honeydew melon, vanilla, citrus, cinnamon, mulled wine. Another fruit-forward dram that shows some spanish oak influence.
Palate: Honey, apple, icing sugar, heather, stewed red berries, plums, citrus. Malt, thinner than expected from nose, bready, apricot, nutty, honey, light oak, nutmeg .
Finish: Nutty, bready, oak, nutmeg, honey, light fruit, raisin, orange peel. Surprisingly dry. Honey, apple, sweet orange, sweet mint, pineapple, icing sugar, sweet grape juice.
Overall, this was preferred to the 12 as it had similar fruitiness with a bit more depth.
The 18 year expression is aged in ex-sherry, a fact that was plainly evident from the first sniff of the glass, and everyone agreed the sherry type was probably Oloroso.
Nose: Sherry, raisins, green grapes, green apple, pineapple, cardamum, brown sugar, oaky mustiness, honey, dark fruits, pear, leather, cinnamon
Palate: Honey, oak, nutty, malt, earthy, nutmeg, clove, tobacco, Brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon, honeydew, apple.
Finish: Cinnamon, red liquorice, red berries, brown sugar, caramel, stewed apples, plums, figs. Mix of sweet and bitter oak, clove, earthy, malt, honey, dried fruits, leather. medium length.
While not unanimous, this was the overall favourite of the line-up and presents a great sherried character while allowing the spirit’s natural fruitiness to shine through.
The 24 year is the 2nd oldest expression from AnCnoc (the oldest is their limited edition 35yr), and is bottled at 46% with no colour added or chill-filtration, like most of their line-up. No info is given on cask types.
Nose: Pear, caramel, oak, raisins, dates, honey, walnuts, maple syrup, plums, vanilla, red delicious apples, tropical fruit, strawberry.
Palate: Vanilla, oak, honey, brown sugar, stewed apples, Caramel, raisins, tobacco, leather, pepper, oak, plums.
Finish: Pepper, ginger, raisins, oak, spice and tannin heavy, vanilla, honey, maple syrup, sweet pepper, sweet spice, cinnamon. Oaky sweet spice remains on the palate for a long time.
This was generally regarded as a grown-up version of the 12 year, with more depth, spice and oak influence. Definitely one you can sit with and dissect for a long time.
A huge thanks to the team from Inver House and Woodman Spirits for allowing us to try these whiskies!