Tuesday, July 26, 2011

can't go for that, ooh ooh ooh, knockando

Still a few whisky matters to take care of, so here's an idea: let's have a sort of Celebrity Death Match and do two at once.

Here's a bottle of Knockando I got at Waitrose for £19. Now Knockando's USP seems to be that they label their bottlings with a "vintage" (1997 in the case of my bottle) rather than a simple age statement (though, slightly confusingly, they do issue one of those as well - 12 years for the entry-level one). What the practical consequences of this are I'm not too sure, other than that if it means all the whisky in the bottle is from the one year this rules out throwing a dash of older whisky in to enrich things, as some distilleries do (the rule being that the age statement denotes the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle, so you can lob a bit of 30-year-old into your 12-year-old during the vatting process if you really want to).

Anyway - it's quite straw-coloured and light as befits a whisky mainly matured in ex-bourbon casks, and it's got that biscuity/buttery smell that other bourbon cask-matured whisky like Glenmorangie has, as well as something a bit more estery, like magic markers. The taste is biscuity as well, and sweeter than you'd expect. This is basically a very mellow Speysider in the vein of the Tormore and the Cardhu - not as exciting as some, but really quite nice if you just want something nice and mellow that won't rip your face off.

Secondly, I bought a half-bottle of 10-year-old Glenfarclas for £11 in the Heathrow duty-free shop on the way to Canada (along with a bigger bottle of something else which we'll get to later), and, slightly surprisingly, had some left to bring back with me.

This one is a much more golden-brown colour, which tells you it's been matured in sherry casks. Sure enough it's rich and almondy rather than dry and biscuity, though I think I detect a bit of magic marker/whiteboard cleaner here as well. Unlike the Knockando this one is slightly less sweet than you expect when you taste it; it's quite similar to the Aberlour and possibly the Macallan.

So what have we learnt? Well, confirmation that while Speyside whiskies are very nice, I still favour the slightly hairier-chested stuff produced north and west of the region; also that while their reputation is (rightly) as being mellow, civilised, un-smoky and all that stuff, there's still a fair bit of variation to be explored. Overall I probably have to give my vote to the Glenfarclas, firstly because it's just that bit richer and more interesting, but also because the name sounds like something a drunk Scotsman would say.

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