There are a few tidbits worth knowing about Knockando before we progress. The distillery has sole ownership of the Cardnach spring, which is a tributary of the Spey and they also choose casks which are at peak performance, which results in very subtly different whiskies. In fact, they label every bottle with the year of distillation; an age old tradition which dates from the time when distilling whisky wasn’t a year round exercise but had to be done seasonally. Finally, but interestingly, it was also the first distillery to use electricity when it was built in 1905. (If that piece of trivia ever wins you a million dollars one day, you know who to write that cheque to…)
What’s so pleasing about the Knockando is its creaminess and softness, and it really is a pleasant surprise because I can’t wholly detect that from its nose. Sure, it’s not like an Islay whisky: it’s exceedingly light with hints of fruit running throughout, but at 43% I found that the alcohol played too much of a role. So a drop of water later and the whole whisky sweetens with a lovely smattering of toasted nuts coming right to the fore. I’m not normally a fan of nutty whisky, but it’s not overpowering and is excellently refined.
The surprise comes in the taste. It remains as light as a feather, yet somehow manages to transform into a lovely creamy, fruity whisky. First the taste of fresh fruit which then slowly fades as a superbly delicate butterscotch flavour takes pride of place. The nuttiness that was present in the nose is always there but is happy to play a supporting role. The finish is exquisite and much like the taste but played out with even more delicacy and finesse. It’s at once fresh fruit, at once a toffee-like butterscotch, but not both. It transforms with elegant ease as your brain flicks between them, first one, then the other.
I’m reviewing an Ardbeg next, and the two couldn’t be any more different. This is a superbly delicate whisky, and quintessentially ‘Speyside’. They might not have a website, the distillery might be closed to the public, but Knockando can make a fine single malt.
Nose 18 Taste 21 Finish 22 Balance 19