Knockdhu (An Cnoc) distillery is located in the village of Knock on the edge of Speyside and was founded in 1894 by John Morrison who bought the Knock Estate and commissioned The Distillers Co. of Edinburgh to construct a distillery on Knock Farm. The water source for the distillery stems from the springs on the nearby Knock Hill, known locally as An Cnoc, which translates from Gaelic as 'Black Hill' and is named thus due to the heather and vegetation of the hill appearing black thanks to natural shadows.

Knockdhu was closed for a couple of years in 1931 due to the economic depression and then again from 1940 to 1945, but the underwent a period modernisation after reopening, only to be closed by the owners SMD in 1983.

 
 

The distillery was purchased by Inver House Distillers in 1988 and was indeed their first distillery purchase and production commenced on 6th February 1989.

It seems that the owners have changed their official labelling between using "Knockdhu" and "An Cnoc" quite frequently in the last 15 to 20 years, with the current preference being An Cnoc, I assume to avoid confusion with the nearby Knockando distillery.

Standard releases include 12y & 16y editions, plus an annual 'vintage' which declares the year of distillation. As I write this the latest one has just been released; 1995-2010.

   
 

Distillery photos with kind permission by Inver House

More great distillery info here, thanks to Malt Madness

   

 

 

An Cnoc General whisky characteristics: Light, complex, floral, perfumed. (Standard Expressions)

 
   

An Cnoc, New Make

Unavailable for purchase

Dram-atics live review and distillery visit

OK, so this one isn't a standard expression.

 
 

Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Clear, like water

Nose: Initially malt and extremely floral, but after a couple of minutes is that the tiniest hint of smoke I detect?

Palate: The floral elements from the nose continue on the palate, but are joined by a suggestion of raspberry.

Finish: Long and fruity.

Overall Impression: I love that floral raspberry, excellent!

 

   
   

An Cnoc, 12y, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light honey

Nose: A bouquet of fresh malt, straw and liquorice floating on a rich tea biscuit in a swimming pool.

Palate: A quick burst of smooth red berries, fading to honey and malt, then lingering on the palate with a spicy finish.

Finish: Spicy and medium

Overall Impression: This is a good light whisky, an enjoyable every day dram and good value for money, just not spectacular.

A second tasting in February 2011

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light honey / pale gold

Nose: Floral malt, slightly herbal, fresh and quite sweet.

Palate: Floral grasses, honey and some hints of (red) berries.

Finish: Long and fruity with floral grasses.

Overall Impression: Plenty of floral grasses and berries with a trace of honey make for a good, solid standard malt. One for an aperitif or sunny Spring evening on the patio.

 

   
   

An Cnoc, 16y, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Pale straw

Nose: Perfumed honey, biscuit and butterscotch with some faint apricot developing after a few minutes.

Palate: Smooth and creamy mouth-feel with an initial burst of mild liquorice root and apricot. This is followed by more fruit, including peach, but overlaid with mild creamy toffee.

Finish: Medium to long.

Overall Impression: Lots happening here with fruit and toffee, a very nice whisky.

 

   
   

An Cnoc, 16y, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Reviewed (blind) as part of MMA 2011

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Very pale

Nose: Starts with almost nothing, just a light freshness, but it does steadily expand with time to include some nice floral notes, then what I can only describe as lightly perfumed biscuit. Is there a suggestion of honey in there too? Maybe.

Palate: A more vibrant palate offers light flora, honey, biscuit and the freshness of a spring-time Alpine meadow. Finally there's also a hint of slightly peppery peach.

Finish: Medium to long.

Overall Impression: A little subdued on the nose but much more vibrant on the palate. A good anytime or even aperitif whisky.

 

   

 

 

Annual Vintages (there was, I am informed, no 1992 bottled)

   
   

An Cnoc, 1991, released 2006, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Nose: Light floral liquorice coated in barley.

Palate: Initially smooth and creamy but the smoothness opens very quickly into a spiciness which fades relatively quickly. The flavours are pretty much akin to the nose with a slightly floral liquorice lingering quite long.

Overall Impression: I do like An Cnoc

 

   
   

An Cnoc, 1993, released 2008, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Nose: Just like walking into a gift shop filled with perfumes and scented soaps.

Palate: Lots of perfumed scents including some violet and lavender caressing the palate with a spicy tingle.

Overall Impression: I am a fan of An Cnoc and this just helps me to like them even more.

 

   
   

An Cnoc, 1994, released 2009, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour; Sunshine and honey

Nose: Very aromatic, floral hay, grasses and honey

Palate: Very smooth honey with grass and hay are transported directly from the nose to the palate.

With 3 drops of water; The palate becomes more creamy in texture, but sharper in taste.

Finish; Long with honey and just the slightest hint of salt.

Overall Impression: I do still like An Cnoc and this is a jolly good vintage which I would place as better than the 1991, but just not quite on the level of the '93 which was outstanding. But this is still a 'must buy' for those who like light, floral whiskies.

Whisky & Chocolate:

Sarotti No.1, 72% cacao with orange Combination: As the previous two attempts to pair this chocolate with whisky weren't so successful tonight, I decided to try a much lighter and more fragrant whisky and what a difference it makes. The light floral hay and grassy notes of the An Cnoc, along with the honey are nicely enhanced with the bitterness and hints of orange in the chocolate to give an extra depth of flavour to the palate and another dimension to the finish. A decent combination.

 

   
   

An Cnoc, 1995, released 2010, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich (21ct) gold

Nose: Immediately intense with butterscotch, honey, a hint of candy floss and very aromatic light wood. This is a light and complex nose, but at the same time a true 'in your face' one which constantly suggests something special to come.

Palate: Smooth and creamy butterscotch which gradually expands across the palate with a delightful peppery toffee. It also exhibits malt and honey with a tingle right in the middle of the tongue, whilst making the sides of mouth water with pleasure.

With 3 drops of water: This is already very good and I just don't wish to add water tonight, maybe next time.

Finish: Long with plenty of butterscotch and toffee.

Overall Impression: Make no mistake, this is a very good whisky, but it certainly took me by surprise. Why? My previous An Cnoc vintages have been much more aromatic, sweet and floral than this one. This has slightly richer flavours with butterscotch and toffee replacing herbs and other flora. Is this a bad thing? Certainly not, it's just a little different, a little richer and I love it!

 

   
   

An Cnoc, 1996, released 2011, 46% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light yellow (9ct) gold

Nose: An initial explosion of hay and grasses is followed by a development of wood and a suggestion of dried fruits.

Palate: Creamy mouth-feel with some pepper, red berries and light toffee. Green apple then appears to lead into the finish.

Finish: Long with a hint of green apple.

Overall Impression: Again different to previous vintages, especially with that green apple. A nice whisky.

 

   

 

 

Something special

 
   

An Cnoc, 1975, 30y, 50% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Dram-atics live review and distillery visit

 
 

Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Rich oak

Nose: Delightfully rich aromas of an olde worlde sweet shop, very aromatic.

Palate: Floral, but with plenty of light toffee, hints of oak and just the faintest suggestion of smoke.

Finish: Very long.

Overall Impression: Amazing, now this is special!

 

   
   

An Cnoc, 1975, 35y, Unknown abv

Cask Sample, not available to purchase

Dram-atics live review and distillery visit

 
 

During a recent distillery trip with Inver House, Gordon Bruce, the distillery manager treated us to a cask sample which suddenly appeared from his office cupboard and wha ta sample it was, distilled in 1975 and currently 35 years of age, Slΰinte Gordon!

Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Rich gold, amber

Nose: Exotic summer fruits with apricot, mango and papaya over very civilised aged oak and a touch of Alpine flora.

Palate: Gentle cream with a tingle of green peppercorns right at the front of the palate, followed closely by nuts, toffee and those fruits from the nose.

Finish: Everlasting!

Overall Impression: This gets very close to my all-time Top 10 whiskies, please bottle it and employ me for QA on each bottle!

 

   
 

1990

20y

 

An Cnoc, 1990, 20y, 50% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; Unknown

Dram-atics live review and distillery visit

 
 

Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Very light gold

Nose: Extremely aromatic herbs, gently sweet.

Palate: Initially creamy and smooth, then acquiring a little tingly pepper with malt and aromatic biscuit.

Finish: Long, floral, biscuit.

Overall Impression: A most enjoyable and rather special dram.

 

   

 

 

Knockdhu General whisky characteristics: Light, slightly floral, quite fresh.

 
   

Knockdhu, 12y, 43% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

 
 

Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light gold

Nose: Slightly perfumed, fresh and floral malt.

Palate: An initial burst of floral coconut soon fades to leave a rather fresh and clean feeling across the palate.

Finish: Short to medium, but it does repeat a little.

Overall Impression: A good everyday malt with a tendency to slightly floral freshness. Definitely aperitif.

 

   

 

 

Some extra distillery photos

 
 

 
 

Kind permission by Teimei Horiuchi

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