Younger than some of the more famous Scottish distilleries, Knockdhu was founded in 1893 by John Morrison in Banffshire. The location was chosen not only for access to water and grain sources, but due to proximity to rail lines in the region. Production lasted for the most part continuously for almost a century, before it closed and sold to Inver House. Production began again in 1989 and continues unabated. Annual production is on the smaller side, around 1.9 million liters (18% of The Glenlivet’s annual output). The whisky is named anCnoc (gaelic for “the hill”) to differentiate it from Knockando, with a core range of 12, 16 and 30 year malts, along with a NAS peated range.
Oddly, anCnoc doesn’t make any maturation pronouncement on the bottle, sleeve or online. Only by reaching out directly to the distillery did we get the final word. We say odd because many whiskies proudly claim any unusual maturation or finishing, as it generally makes good marketing. That being said, not all do so, but even Highland Park plainly states what they do if you do even a little digging. You be you, Knockdhu!
Age: 12 years
Maturation: Second fill American oak, ex-bourbon & ex-sherry casks
Nose: Orange, cookie dough, vanilla, honey, grain, cherry, banana, chocolate
Palate: Vanilla, honey, orange zest
Finish: Honey, smoke
Comments: Water is not needed, but a few drops opens up the orange in the nose and cuts the heat. Pairs well with chocolate, as it brings out the orange.
Adam – I like all the different flavors that are going on here, though it’s not a busy scotch. The chocolate pairing is a delightful surprise. While it does not have poor blend, the flavors are very distinct and it is a really delightful mix of sweetness and fruit and grain with a touch of zest and smoke at the end. A new story in every mouthful, sure to keep on giving new experiences.
Meghan – There is a unique nose to this whiskey. It reminds me of an Indian restaurant, with a barrage of spiced smells that you cannot quite differentiate from one another. It has a warm smell, like cooked fruit, cinnamon, cumin, and fenugreek. The mouthfeel is different than most whiskies; it coats the tongue in a dusty, ashy way. The finish is rather diminutive in comparison to the other parts. Although it is not advertised, this is a sherry finish and bits of that come through. A unique Highland to be sure.
Michael – It feels like I take a sip, it feels like it’s filling my mouth with the flavor. I really enjoy it.
Mary-Fred – There’s something dark about the flavor. Ashy? Not quite smoke. The transformation by chocolate for me was significant. It became so much more everything with the sweetness.
Peter – I get these sort of visual images. It’s geometric, square. What does that mean? I don’t know. It’s a funny one. Seawater mixed with kelp.
Ben – There’s something that sneaks out in front of the nose before the rest of it comes on strong and you forget what that first little bit is. Maybe a chocolate or cocoa flavor. There are hard lines between the flavors.