[Review] Knockando - 18 years old 1996 43%

As a kid, I remember my dad's particular dislike for whisky, probably because the bottles he had -given to him as presents- were not quality spirit. However, when he started venturing into the world of single malt over 15 years ago, the first bottle he ever got was a Knockando 12 in a wooden presentation box, before moving to Talisker 10 and Laphroaig 10. I have no recollection of the taste of this Knockando 12, but it is a name which stayed with me.

Knockando is a Speyside distillery founded in 1898 and the name means 'little black hill'. It is not to be confused with the Knockdhu distillery which produces anCnoc single malt. Knockando is used mainly in blended whisky such as J&D and tends to be aged using ex-Maker's Mark and Jack Daniels casks. It is owned by Diageo and seems to be widely available in Frence but not so much in the UK. Knockando is also one of the rare brands to release their single malt as vintages or 'seasons' as they call them.

So when I realised that some French supermarkets had the 18 years old distilled in 1996 for around £35, I asked my parents to get me a bottle so that I could give it a go. For the price I did not expect that much but then again, it is an 18 year-old whisky matured mainly in ex-sherry casks, so what did I have to lose?

This Knockando 18 was distilled in 1996 so I guess it was bottled in 2014. It was aged mainly in ex-sherry casks and bottled at 43%. Nowhere on the packaging does it mention colour or filtration so I will guess it was chillfiltered and coloured.

Nose: Rich and sweet, fruity with notes of raisins and peach, chocolate, almonds, a little vanilla and honey. There are also some floral and citric notes, pear drops and hints of Bourbon too (Maker's Mark?). Nice!

Palate: Not too thick for the mouthfeel, sweet and woody, sherry, licorice, spicy oak, some floral notes, boiled sweets, barley and still some Bourbon hints.

Finish: Woody, dry sherry oak, chocolate, some orange peel bitterness and some sweet malted barley.

With water: There is more honeyed fruit on the nose, the palate is a little spicier and more citrusy and the finish a little more bitter. No water is needed for this malt in my opinion.

Overall, I must say I am pretty surprised by this Knockando 18. I did not have great expectations for it but it actually delivers a very enjoyable experience, especially when you consider the cost of the bottle. If I wanted to be picky I would say the mouthfeel could be a little thicker/oilier but then again, I think it is the perfect malt to enjoy at the end of a cold day without having to crack open these now-so-expensive bottles of Macallan!


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