Should a whisky review be objective ? At first glance it seems a rather trivial question. Naturally you should be objective. However your whole relationship with a whisky is far more subjective. For a start you are dealing with the senses, so what may appeal to you may not appeal to others. On top of that there are the emotions you share with a whisky. I have a bottle of Glemorangie whisky. It was given to me as a Christmas present by my brother-in-law the year before he died of cancer. Whenever I drink the whisky I think of him, his courage and his friendship. My relationship with the Glenmorangie is purely based on my emotions.
The reason I write this pre-amble is because the latest whisky in my collection, the Knockando 12 year old, has trouble getting past the disappointments I encountered as I bought it. Let me explain, but first the statutory picture.
I’ve been away from the whisky for the last couple of months, mostly because of Lent, so I was excited to be heading to my favourite Frankfurt whisky store, Whisky Spirits. The plan was to buy a 12 year old AnCnoc. I’d recently finished the 16 year old Ancnoc and loved it. My plan was to test the 12 year old to see if it was as go/better value. Sadly the 12 year-old and the 16 year-old were not in stock and I didn’t fancy the Peter Arkle special editions. The person serving me suggested the Knockando range, as he told me it was from the same distillery. He was almost correct. Ancnoc comes from the Knockdhu distillery in Knock. The Knockando distillery is Knockando, about 30 miles away according to google maps. Indeed the Knockdhu brand was renamed AnCnoc to avoid this confusion according to wikipedia.
It took me a while to get over this disappointment and I was just about to taste the whisky when I noticed that the bottle labelling stated “mit Farbstofff (zuckerkulör)” which is German for “with colourant (caramel)”. Google suggests it’s probably e150a, and that really upset me. WHY does it need this colour, I’m happy with whatever colour my whisky turns up as, but more importantly I’m worried if the caramel sweetens the whisky. Admittedly this could be a more general problem with whiskies, but it’s the first time I’ve come across this, and it’s left me very dis-trustful of the Knockando. I think our relationship is over. Still, in the interests of both of us let me share my tasting notes:
Price: I picked up 0.7l for €38, but since it’s a Diageo brand you will find it at the supermarkets. I think I spotted a bottle for around €30 at my local Real supermarket.
Colour: whatever, I’m tempted to say caramel, however it’s actually quite a light looking whisky, almost like an AnCnoc.
Nose: melted butter, the ever-present toffee smell, somewhat sweet and strangely creamy (which is odd since I doubt cream actually smells creamy).
Taste: I hate to say it but you are first hit by an intense sweetness. Am I drinking a liqueur or just imagining it ? Following up with pear and marmalade.
Finish: A short, relatively clean and peppery bang. A hint of Cardamom.
Bottom Line: (3 out of 5) It’s not a bad whisky, it’s an enjoyable easy drink, but it not one I plan to re-buy once I’ve finished the bottle.
PS. Am I being too harsh on this whisky – is the caramel colour much more widely used than I think. Please feel free to add your thought in the comments section.