This month we try a superb Speyside whisky – the Knockando 1997 12yo.
Established in 1898 deep in Speyside, the wonderful Knockando Distillery was build by John Thompson, who named it after the little black hill, or Cnoc an Dhu. In 1904 was bought by Gilbey’s of the Gin fame. In 1962 UDV (United Distillers and Vinters) was establish by the amalgamation of Gilbeys and Unwin’s. Unwins owned the Justerini & Brooks blend (J&B) Blend. Since 1962 UDV has evolved into Diageo, but Knockando still forms the back bone of J&B Rare Blended Scotch. It is way too good to be blended though.
Interestingly – Knockando only bottles vintage whisky. That is, they don’t do ‘age statement’ whiskies (ie – 12yo) – they do [in this case] ‘1997’. So all the whisky in the bottle was distilled in that particular year. To my mind – Knockando is the only distillery in Scotland to exclusively bottle vintage whiskies.
There is just a touch of peat on the nose of the Knockando 1997 12yo with some nutty, almondy tones. I thought being lightly coloured, it would be aged in American oak barrels, which it was, and a light sweet fruity whisky, which it is NOT. It is a fully intensely flavoured whisky. Even though they are practically neighbours it is a very different flavour to Cardhu from last month. It has a masculine assertiveness to it. You can almost imagine it walking up to you in a pub and saying in a Glasgow accent, “Alright Jimmy? I’m Knockandhu, now who the shite are you?” There is a brash hazelnut flavour, with that unmistakable and indescribable flavour. It is not an unpleasant flavour, just brash. There is a lot of suppleness to this whisky, meaning it has an almost oily character that coats your mouth.