|Illustration by the author|
In an experiment over the next few months, we will be reviewing a handful of Scotch whiskys to try and find the best quality for the lowest price. As I delve deeper into the world of whisky, I tend to find a lot of overlapping ideas with regard to what influences a person's choice when they are standing at the liquor shelf. Being guilty of following the same trends myself, I thought it would be interesting to try to shadow all of the fancy selling points—color, extra maturing in different casks, packaging—to find out what appeals to me and our customers most, while at the same time trying to save some money in the process.
The first in this series is a 12-year-old single malt from the anCnoc distillery (pronounced a-nock). Previously called Knockdhu, the name change was done because of the confusion between it and the the Knockando distillery. Originally opened in 1894, anCnoc was considered the "perfect embodiment of a modern distillery" and, outside of a couple small additions, not much has changed in the way they create their warm flavors and complexity.
Stationed in the eastern Highlands, anCnoc 12 Years Old contains a great complexity not usually experienced in a younger whiskys. This is most likely due, at least in part, to the use of a worm tub, which consists of a coiled copper tube that is submerged in cold water. The worm tub condenses the alcohol vapor back into liquid form. While only a handful of distillers still use this method, the result is a wonderfully well-rounded, heavier character. There is a freshness to the nose, with a hint of smoke and pungent finish. It is medium rich on the palate, sweetness barely coming through, with some spices and fruit. The finish is long and rewarding, combining all the flavors down to a soft fruity end.
While anCnoc 12 Years Old does not surpass some of the longer-aged malts, it still packs a complexity worthy of the best and is available for under $40. anCnoc 12 Years Old is now available at Siciliano's Market for $38.81/750ml.