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My friend Rick Culver came by earlier today, and popped open a 1997 Aultmore, 12 years old, bottled by G&M for their Connoisseurs Choice label (refill sherry casks, 43% ABV) Very nice, and I commented that it was an elegant choice for this hot summer day today. After he left, I thought hmmmm...what other malt be right for this lovely afternoon?
Look in vain for the anCnoc Distillery - it doesn't exist, and never has. This is one of the few single malts that has a totally different name than its distillery (in this case, Knockdhu, who did not want any confusion between it and Knockando, another Speysider). It has only two stills, wooden washbacks, stone-built dunnage warehouses and still uses worm tub condensers - little has changed since it opened in October 1894. In fact, it was the first distillery built by DCL (later known as Diageo), who then closed it in 1983. Six years later it was re-opened by Inver House, who didn't change a thing. Thank God.
The colour is a bright pale gold. The nose is bright as well, fresh and fruity, with honey, lemon citrus and baskets of barley sugar. Some cocoa as well, and a little briny. Sweet and refreshing, perfect on a hot summers day like today. Water seems to add an almost peaty element to it!
On the palate, more honey with a creamy mouthfeel - this has some body to it. The vanilla and citrus is very much in keeping with the nose, absolutely delicious. A little brighter with water, believe it or not - and spicier.
The finish is long and lingering, and a little spicier than you would think. This has a wonderful balance between having some serious body to it (perhaps thanks to the old-fashioned worm tubs) while retaining that light and fruity Speyside character. Beautifully done - this would make a much better single malt introduction for the novice, than the usual Glens. If you are interested, Jim Murray scores this a 94.5.