Tag Archives: highland

anCnoc Blas Review

Distiller: Knockdhu. ABV: 54%. No age statement. Region: Highlands. Price: $65-75.

Summery at long last in LA. I’m celebrating with an anCnoc Blas.

As you may know from my recent rave about the anCnoc 12, I’ve been mighty impressed with the lesser-known Highland distillery of Knockdhu, which releases single malts under the anCnoc brand to avoid confusion with Knockando. The standard-issue 12 is a surefire daily drinker and an outstanding value.

The Blas (Gaelic for “taste”) is no less appealing. It’s a no age statement release, but has the benefit of being near cask-strength at 54% ABV. The special edition labeling is by Scottish tailor and menswear designer Patrick Grant. The exact connection connection between the designer and the distillery is unclear to me, but what matters, as always, is what’s in the bottle.

The nose starts off occluded–packed tight with candied fruits and sweet barrel notes waiting to get out. The palate’s where it really shows its stuff. Slightly overripe fruit salad. Dried orange and lemon peel. Medium body. With some water, all kinds of fragrant wood notes bloom: cedar, clove, fir. The finish rounds out the sweet profile with drier, tannic flavors: Chardonnay barrel and sautéed mushroom. Delicious.

Every bit as enjoyable as the 12-year-old, with the built-in cask-strength fun of drawing nuances out with time and water. Time to pour another.

Cheers, friends! – BO

A company representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

anCnoc 12 Review

Distiller: Knockdhu. ABV: 43%. Age: 12 years. Region: Highlands. Price: $40-45.

For the price, is there a better straight-ahead Highland out there than the anCnoc 12? Even if I find one, I’ll still love this bottle.

anCnoc (pron. a-nock) is the brand name for single malt from the Knockdhu Distillery. It was previously known as Knockdhu, but changed names to avoid confusion with Knockando. Still following?

This standard 12-year-old release is the cornerstone of a quite broad current range, which includes age-stated whiskies up to 35 years, vintage-dated releases, four peated expressions, and multiple special releases.

The 12 is an excellent introduction to the line. Robust enough at 43% ABV, and non chill-filtered, the way it should be. Nose: Reisling! Light, bright, acidic grapey notes, then apple, peach & apricot. First the fresh fruit, then the fruit tree blossoms.

Palate: candied grapefruit. Wildflower honey. (Very lightly) smoked honeycomb. Nice malty core. Further on, buttery toffee. Finish: baklava with a toasty bottom.

Easy daily drinker, great value. Hats off, anCnoc!

Slàinte, friends–and stay tuned for more anCnoc reviews coming soon. – BO

A company representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Usquaebach Blended Whisky Review

Usquaebach Reserve – Producer: Usquaebach. Distillers: undisclosed. Blend: 50% 17-19 year old Highland single malts, 50% younger grain whisky. Price: $45.

Usquaebach Old-Rare – Producer: Usquaebach. Distillers: undisclosed. ABV: 43%. Blend: 85% single malt, 15% grain. Price: $100-140.

Fearlessly old-fashioned in an iPhone era, fearlessly unpronounceable in an age of ignorance (not really – it’s “oos-ke-bah”), Usquaebach is a line of Highland blended whiskies that jumps out on the shelf–especially that ceramic flagon–and long had me curious.

The name Usquaebach is Scots Gaelic for “water of life,” and pays tribute to the great Scottish poet Robert Burns. who wrote in “Tam o’ Shanter”: “Wi usquaebach we’ll face the devil!” Tried two of their three releases: the Reserve (big bottle), and  is a blend of 50% 17- to 19-year-old Highland single malts and 50% younger grain whisky. The Old-Rare (flagon) is 85% single malt, 15% grain. They also have a 15-year-old Vatted Highland Malt bottling, which I have yet to try.

The Reserve is the more robust of the two, and my favorite, though it’s less than half the price of the Old-Rare. The Reserve’s nose is fresh and a little raw without being spirit-heavy: bright, slightly underripe Bosc pears dressed in lemon. Palate adds raw ginger and white pepper. Transition to the finish brings lemongrass and a little hickory, and finish itself is bracing and refreshing. Surprisingly good with food!

The Old-Rare is more restrained. It has a somewhat shy nose, but with more oak than the Reserve, and with that, vanilla and caramel. On the palate, there’s Demerara sugar, new leather, and sweet hay. A touch of sherry fruit. The finish is short and light with sweet-and-sour oak.

Two very enjoyable blends, neither overly complex, but both balancing bracing grain notes with a flavorful malt and fruit core.

Cheers, friends! – BO

Buy Usquaebach Whisky online at Mash + Grape

Glenmorangie 18 Review

Distiller: Glenmorangie. Age: 18 years. ABV: 43%. Region: Speyside. Price: $110-150.

I’m a big fan of Glenmorangie’s Private Edition series and enjoy the new Milsean as an after-dinner drink, but I always come back to my favorite, the “extremely rare” 18 year old.

There’s honey, grapefruit and berries on the nose. More citrus and honey combine with light oak and vanilla within a creamy texture on the palate. Its creamy finish is gloriously sustained.

Truly an example of excellence. Cheers! – JTR

Buy Glenmorangie single malt online at Mash + Grape

The Deveron 12 Review

Distillery: Macduff. ABV: 40%. Age: 12 years. Region: Highland. Price: $45.

When John Dewar & Sons offered us the chance to sample its Last Great Malts collection (Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Royal Brackla, and The Deveron), our hopes were high. Any collection purporting to offer the last of the more or less undiscovered malts has to be bringing it–and we already knew the Craigellachie did.

But for me, thus far, the rest of the collection has been a mixed bag. While I love the Aultmore 12, the 12-year-old Deveron is a touch underwhelming. It’s part of the first range of single malts to be released from the Macduff distillery, all of which come in at the same modest ABV of 40%. The nose on the 12 is fairly shy, as if it’s afraid to display the toffee, apple, and brown sugar that so want to come out. The palate brings the apple to the fore, with sprinkles of cinnamon, cereal, and hay. The finish is gone before you know to look for it, and left me wanting much more.

All in all, it’s a decent introductory Highland malt, but not one I’d serve the more experienced whisky drinker.

Cheers, friends! – TM

The distiller kindly shared a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Aberfeldy 12 Review

Distiller: Aberfeldy. ABV: 40% Age: 12 years. Region: Highlands. Price: $50.

With this spectacular shot from our Instagram friend @scotch_doc, our look at John Dewar & Sons’ Last Great Malts lineup continues.

This dram has a close family resemblance to another Last Great Malts release we recently reviewed, the Royal Brackla 12. (Craigellachie, Aultmore, and The Deveron complete the lineup.) Like the Brackla, this Aberfeldy is an immediately appealing, easy-drinking dram with a classic Speyside profile–though the Aberfeldy’s actually a Highland–plus a little something extra. An unexpected heft and meatiness for its mere 12 years and 40% ABV.

Golden baked fruits and orange on the nose, plus…chicken barbecue? Pound cake with whipped cream, topped with raspberries and blackberries. Palate has more baked apple, with a tasty dose of clove and cinnamon. Orange tea bridges to the finish, which has a nice balance of sweetness, spice, and tannins. A touch of fresh leather at the end.

An irreproachable, satisfying first dram of the night, any night–like the Royal Brackla 12. The only objection to these two might be what the ever-eloquent Mark of Malt-Review.com said (referring to the Brackla): “It’s all very Duke and Duchess of Cambridge…no risk-taking as of yet. No shivers down the spine.”

True, but I finish each dram with a smile. Cheers, friends! -BO

Buy Aberfeldy Whisky online at Mash + Grape

The distiller kindly shared a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.