Peated whisky can divide opinion, but when it’s good, it’s good. anCnoc have added two new whiskies to their range.
As I say, peated whiskey is not to everyone’s taste. Some find it akin to sticking your head into a burning haystack, and the aroma to be almost offensive.
I sympathise, it can easily be overdone and rather like over-hopping beer, can be carried out solely to give the hipsters something to talk about.
Peated whisky gets its smoky flavour from the peat fires that kiln dry the malted barley. The longer it is exposed, the stronger the smokiness.The quality of the peat also matters.
Peat was once the only fuel source to fire kilns, especially in the remoter parts of Scotland, but as coke and coal became more available, distillers turned to it as being cheaper and more reliable.
anCnoc have been traditionalists since 1894, working as the Knockdhu Distillery in Banffshire and drawing their water from the nearby Black Hill. The brand name comes from anCnoc (Gaelic for ‘the hill’ and pronounced ‘a-nock’)>
Experts in peated whiskies, and award winners too, they are constantly experimenting and there are two new additions to their range – Sherry Cask Finish Peated Edition and Peatheart Batch 3. We were sent some miniatures to try.
Sherry Cask Finish Peated Edition
This single malt will be a permanent fixture in the range. It has peat, of course, although it is a mix of peated and non-peated spirit. After maturing in American Oak casks it’s finished in sherry butts from Jerez.
This gives it a sweet overtone, and like a Pedro Ximinez sherry it feels dark and rich on the tongue and you can pick up middle eastern spices such as cinnamon. The smokiness is restrained and the balance is delicate.
Bottled in 70cl at 43% ABV, RRP £40.
Peatheart Batch 3
Batch 3 follows on, you will not be surprised to learn, from Batch 1 and Batch 2, 2017 and 2020 respectively, and has been eagerly awaited by whisky fans.
Matured once again in American Bourbon casks this benefits from anCnoc’s new idea of stating the level of peatiness in the whisky by using PPM levels on the bottle ( Phenol Parts Per Million). This is 13.3 PPM, which means it’s more on the heavy side.
Pale gold and with grassy notes as well as green apples, there’s a vanilla sweetness from the bourbon barrels and the smoky note lingers.
Bottled in 70cl at 46% ABV, non-chilled filtered and with natural colour. 1535 cases available. RRP £55.