The name of AnCnoc (pronounced an-knock) was created in 1993. The current owners, Inver House distillers, felt that the whisky produced at their Knockdhu distillery was easily confused with another Speyside distillery, Knockando. So they took the decision to rename the whisky produced at Knockdhu (this means 'black hill' in Gaelic) as AnCnoc ('the hill' in Gaelic), so as to avoid this confusion. The Knockdhu distillery was opened in 1893 and currently produces around 900,000 litres of whisky per year. It is located near to the town of Huntly in Speyside, although it is very close to the 'border' of Speyside, so can sometimes be classed as a Highland whisky. The distillery is one of the few to be traditionally run, with a reliance on human judgement rather than computers and mechanical processes. The core range has this 12 years old and a 16 years old along with some vintage releases (currently a 1975 and a 1994). Independent bottlings are rare and generally will be named as Knockdhu.
This 12 years old has a golden amber colour and the nose smells promising with a fairly rich mixture of honey, vanilla, dried fruit (think of sultanas) and zingy citrus notes (imagine lemon zest). However, this early promise doesn't come through on the palate. It feels thin and very light with some dried fruitiness (sultanas again) and that citrus element. There is an underlying bitterness that appears almost instantly, that left me disappointed. The finish is crisp and short but with that bitterness again. Overall, a bit of let down following the promise of the nose, bordering on unpleasant because of that bitter note. However, as with all of these notes, it is a matter of taste and this should cost between £20-25 a bottle.