A Complex Hive of Sweet and Spicy
What comes to mind when you hear the term “complex whisky?” I’ve heard some whisky folks describe a scotch as “complex” only if it has a litany of strong “in your face” layers from different flavor profiles. One person even told me only heavily peated whiskies or sherry bombs could be considered complex and that a “plain Highland whisky could never rank as a complex expression.” I just smiled and told him that I absolutely disagreed.
Fact: there are complex whiskies from each region, including this Highland malt – AnCnoc 12.
Complex is not necessarily complicated.
The word “complex” is defined as “consisting of many different and connected parts.” Two key words: different and connected. A complex whisky is multi-faceted with different layers of flavor or texture. Those flavors connect from one to another. And when it is done right, it is a real treat.
The difference between complex and complicated is organization and design. Think of the whiskies you have had that were all over the place: the nose was off from what was found on the palate and the finish made no sense. Contrast that with a well-balanced and multi-dimensional whisky that made a natural progression from one place to end somewhere else. This whisky takes you on a journey. The former only confuses you.
The AnCnoc 12 is a complex dram. It demands a bit of patience so it can reveal itself to you. Give it that time. You are worth the wait to experience its brilliance.
Distillery: Knockdhu (nock-due)
Expression: AnCnoc 12 (a-nock)
Origin: Highland (bordering Speyside)
ABV: 43% in USA (40% in the UK)
NCF: No – it’s Chill Filtered
Age: 12 Years
Cask: 2nd Fill American Oak, Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry
Fun Fact: The Men of Knock are the six distillery operators who are world renown for their pursuit in making perfect whisky.
Sampling it neat….
Color: Light amber, oily with great legs that cling to the glass.
Nose: Waxy honey sweetness with floral notes and lemongrass.
Palate: Complex. Evolves from a light, waxy sweetness of honey to an herbal spice, then pepper.
Finish: Long. Starts at middle to back of palate then moves to the front of the tongue.
Let’s Pour a Dram…Lifting a glass of AnCnoc 12 to your nose brings a wave of honey with an overlay of earthy waxiness. Think of a chunk of honeycomb with broken bits of wax and oozing golden liquid. The scent then morphs into a light floral then a fresh lemongrass fragrance. It’s a reverse progression of a honey bee gathering nectar and pollen from flowers then storing them in her hive.
The first sip yields a light honey sweetness from the sherry and bourbon casks. It will make you think this will be an easy, sweet, and malty sipper. But hold up. Wait for it…. yep there it is. Thai basil spice rolls in with a light, fresh and slightly citrus note. But it’s not done! The flavor of AnCnoc 12 pushes to the end with a long, peppery finish that starts in the middle to back of the palate then moves to the front of the tongue. It’s a lovely dram.
Knockdhu uses Oregon pine wooden washbacks that impart waxy notes. Local water is used and fermentation lasts 75 hours. They employ one wash and one spirit still – both of which have flat bottoms (instead of concave) with tall necks. The spirit is condensed using worm tubs. All this makes for a lighter more floral expression.
With a little water…
Alcohol flares up a bit on the nose but is still dominated by honey and herbal grass tones. The palate holds strong on sweetness with a lighter, but still lingering, pepper finish. I would expect this if the ABV were 46% or higher. It’s quite impressive that the taste holds so well with water at 43% ABV. It would be interesting to see how different the 40% ABV for the UK compares with the 43% found in the States.
This whisky came to my attention from watching one of @Aqvavitae’s Recycled Review on YouTube. He spoke about it being complex and how it may not be for everyone. With a statement like that, how could I not take the challenge and find out for myself?
Roy is right. This is not a bottle for everyone. But it is definitely a bottle for me. As I work through my whisky journey and pay keen attention to what I like in a whisky, I’ve learned that patience truly is a virtue. And with the AnCnoc 12 patience is required, for yourself, to allow the whisky to evolve.
I will have a bottle of this on my bar for as long as it is available. At about $45 a bottle it is a bargain. AnCnoc 12 is a unique, intricate, and delectable dram.
Have you had this dram? What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!
Links to some of my favorite YouTubers for their reviews on AnCnoc 12
Please remember: These comments are just my opinion. We all have our own distinct flavor profiles. What one person loves may not be special to another. That’s beauty about the vast number of expressions – there is something for everyone. Explore and find what you like!
By the Way… Bees at the Camp
My husband, Mark, and our camp neighbor, Sharon, are keeping a hive of bees at the camp. It was quite an ordeal to relocate the hive from a working plantation while we were experiencing flood waters.
This next week, Mark and Sharon will rob the hive and harvest the summer’s honey. They will, of course, leave some for the bees. We expect to end up with about 50 pounds from the one hive. With our temperate climate, the bees are never dormant and there is always something blooming so “the girls” will have their hive filled again in no time.
Sharon’s husband, Clay, captured these great shots of our spouses checking out the health of the hive. Bees keep us alive. Treat them with respect. Their honey and a little whisky makes for a great toddy!