The 18-year-old anCnoc single malt whisky from Knockdhu distillery was introduced in the latter half of 2014 and matured in a combination of Spanish oak sherry and American oak bourbon casks, all of which were second-fill barrels.
Bottled at 46% ABV with no chill-filtration or additional colouring.
Appearance: Shiny caramel. A syrupy film quickly forms on the glass. Instant long thick legs trail the length of the glass, back to the surface. A jagged and erratic swirl mark circles the glass, made up of oily tear drops.
Nose: Very pleasing well-balanced warmth emanates from the glass, fuelled by the ABV. Honey, vanilla, red berries, forest fruits and gentle sweet spices present themselves first, in gentle harmony.
Following this are some light sweet barrel char notes and strudel pastry with coarse brown sugar.
Palate: A beautifully oily and satisfyingly thick mouthfeel. An initial spice tingles on the tongue, followed by malt, crunchy nut corn flakes and faint blood orange.
A sweeter side introduces itself from the second or third sip. Honey, custard and Christmas Spice dusted stewed forest fruits.
As the glass matures there’s a tinge of garden mint, sweet black coffee and Werther’s Originals. This would be just as welcome at a summer BBQ as it would in a snug armchair in front of the fire in deepest winter.
The more you drink, the more cake-like the flavours become. It’s lovely.
Finish: Medium to long. It’s ever so slightly grippy. The sweet buttery Werther’s notes linger, along with a sharper fruity vein cutting through it. Dark fruits and fruit salad syrup also make an appearance.
Overall: Fabulous. I’m not happy about the recent price rises (at the time of writing) and this isn’t a substitute for the insanely great 24-year-old, but given the £50 price gap between the two, this is the more ‘affordable’ option, and one of those rare £75+ whiskies that are worth the money.