Sunday, December 11, 2011

cnoc cnoc: who's there

More whisky now, as I've acquired a couple more bottles since last time. Firstly, here's the AnCnoc 12-year old, which I bought a duty-free litre bottle of on the way back from Scotland in September. AnCnoc is the rebranded output of the Knockdhu distillery, renamed to avoid confusion with Knockando, as featured here.

AnCnoc brands itself as a Highland Single Malt, thus putting itself in the same region as such diverse stuff as Dalmore, Clynelish, Old Pulteney and Ben Nevis. However, checking out the location of the distillery, right on the eastern edge of the Speyside region, gives you a better idea of what to expect. Far from resembling the toasty marmaladey delights of the Dalmore and the Ben Nevis, this is a lot more along the lines of the Cardhu and (ironically) the Knockando - sweet vanilla fudge followed by something a bit drier and more shortbread-y, maybe even slightly citrus-y, quite light in colour and taste, perfectly pleasant and quaffable, but perhaps not quite punchy enough to be truly memorable.

Next, Glenmorangie Lasanta. This is one of a range of special finishes that also includes Quinta Ruban (port) and Nectar D'Or (Sauternes) - this one is basically your bog-standard 10-year-old bourbon-cask-matured Glenmorangie given an extra two years in sherry casks and then bottled.

Now I'm mildly suspicious of fancy-dan finishing being applied to whisky - although both the Caol Ila and the Bruichladdich were perfectly nice - but the basic Glenmorangie product is full of lovely custardy goodness, so it's not as if they're trying to put lipstick on a pig here. And, sacrilegious though it might seem to say it, I reckon this might even be better than the standard product - the basic custard cream taste is still there, just wrapped up in a lovely warm jacket of comforting cakey sherryesque insulation that takes it more towards the territory occupied by the big sherry monsters like the Dalmore and the Aberlour.

Finally, Glenfiddich. It's taken a while to get round to by far the biggest-selling single malt whisky in the world, but Asda were knocking it out for a frankly derisory 18 quid last week so it seemed rude not to. We have of course featured a Fiddy here before, the Caoran Reserve, which (just to further undermine what I was saying earlier about special finishing) was really very good indeed. Anyway - read anything about the standard 12-year-old product and you'll discover that pretty much all of the reviews (like the Dalwhinnie heather thing) say "pears". I can sort of see what they mean, as there's something slightly fruitily astringent about it, though it could just as well be apples as far as I know.

The label blurb says it's a blend of sherry casks and bourbon casks, and sure enough (see below) colour-wise it's somewhere between the sherry-tastic Lasanta (on the left) and the bourbon-only AnCnoc (in the middle). Anyway, as you might expect from a gazillion-seller, there's nothing that's going to frighten the horses here, and I reckon the Caoran Reserve is better, but that's not really a complaint.

What, you want a verdict? All right: Lasanta first, Fiddy second, AnCnoc third. Happy now? That overall whisky league table is in the pipeline, honest.

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