For similar reasons as Deanston [link], as i’d only ever had one Knockando before, i thought it about time i improved on that situation with immediate affect.
Knockando 1987 Ob. 43% [5cl][WB]78.45 [WF]78 [WM]77
Probably bottled in 1999 as a 12yo, these Knockando miniatures are much taller than your regular size 5cl sample bottles and come with corks – two of which had to be pushed in rather that popped out. Still, these minis weren’t designed to be kept for 18 years and more in the case of the later vintages i’ll be trying today.
- N: Much of the OBE died off fairly quickly leaving a clear honey, sweet & nutty barley and soft grassy<muesli malt ‘au naturel’ persona, aside from the colouring. Later on more sombre notes of potpourri, dried lime & papaya pieces and cumin & fennel powder move in to compliment the now rather honeyed porridge. It eventually settles as a charmingly soft, honeyed cereal nose over rolled, dry oats. It’s a simple nose yet with a relaxed [mild-complex] subtlety hard to find in a 12yo vintage 30 years on in 2017.
- T: Bone dry with a super-fluffy-fleece softness, dying a death from bottle to [Glencairn] glass. It’s fairly flat but i think that’s from inappropriate storage rather than the whisky itself. There’s a distracting OBE all the way but it’s fairly forgivable.
- F: Milky-soft, malty milk chocolate with a fade lingering longer than expected. The balanced savoury-sweet leads to a fresher caramel-liquorice freshness later on but its the soft, honeyed barley porridge than remains true as does the fleece-soft, slightly waxy mouthfeel.
- C: Years in the bottle have got the best of this one, but it’s still able to show its enough. of itself – that is, a perfectly decent, totally uncomplicated whisky to be poured in large measure after a troubling day.
Scores 78 points
Knockando 1977/1991 Ob. 43% [5cl] WB83.18 WM77
- N: A little older than the 1987 vintage, this is around 13-14yo. It’s also far darker in colour with clear signs of sherry maturation, the fruits and [E150] caramel melded into one. I detect similar honeyed & nutty, grassy-barley notes like in the 1987, though there’s some roughness here also that indicates it could be a little sharp to taste. It’s pretty dry also, and i imagine some first-fill sherry casks have been at work. It settles on a [dark] fruity chocolate centre with a dry-oaked outer rim, but it’s not convincing at all. Adding a few drops of water however snaps everything together. Suddenly theres an alert freshness alongside a more fiery, eager whisky, one that exudes the more natural, large honey notes of the 1978 whilst utilising the benefits of some pokey sherry casks to bring forth a more sweeter nose with fragrant fruits & flowers. Even later on i received wonderfully soft aromatic spiced [fennel powder and cumin seeds] candy floss [slightly burned sugars gave it away], and candy confectionary [lime & orange] pieces – another one for the cook book.
- T: No poke at all, more a hesitant entrance bumbling into a grainy then more smoothed/pureed milk chocolate course before cruising thereafter – and cruising very well. Add water however and the bumbling turns into an adept lead, accomplished journey and a noticeably desirable mouthfeel.
- F: More warming milk chocolate, becoming only a touch spirity as was anticipated. Again like the 1987, the finish is far longer than expected. Whilst adding water transformed the nose and palate, the trade-off is a slightly more pokey spirity finish with some marked OBE notes that were overshadowed by the 1987 before. However, it’s worth the trade given more time as that pokiness softens to a fresher maltiness with a significantly small yet cool ‘blow-your-cheeks-out easy’ heat.
- C: Not without some syndromes, but do experiment with water or you’ll miss the best of it.
Scores 85 points
Knockando 1976/1990 Ob. 43% [5cl] WB84.25
- N: Slightly darker in colour than the 1987 with a similar age to the 1977, this has more body, slightly more potency and a touch of Clynelish/Mortlach vegetal funk to it. It’s also got thicker legs than the previous two and smells way more accomplished, fuller and balanced. After settling i notice a chalky-soft-dryness [but that doesn’t last]. There are some indications of a Mannochmore-esque fire or maybe that’s just the freshness talking – certainly the distillate-funk is a part of this chat. I really dig the nose and i maintain that the Mortlach link is a useful reference.
- T: That’s a fine start, developing nicely before entering cruise control. It’s ever so easy to drink yet never flat nor bland – well, ok just a little bland and a tad flat. Actually, scrub that – its got enough backbone. It’s also a sweet one, honey barley and caramel>chocolate the order of the day.
- F: A controlled cool-fresh with a aniseed/chilli heat in the background that never materialises – but it’s better kept neat in that regard. Later on, any heat threat is totally nullified as the grainy-cereal, caramel-honeyed maltiness allies with with the freshness to finish with some decorum.
- C: Don’t expect to make a shopping list of descriptors because it’s all rather generalised, but it’s generally rather good in a ‘bog standard’ kind of way. I therefore declare this as the ‘Armitage Shanks’ of whisky, equal to the 1977 vintage yet in a totally different way.
Scores 84 points
Knockando 1975/1987 Ob. 43% [5cl] WB86
- N: Another similar aged, 11-12yo, slightly darker in colour than the 1976 and then the 1987 yet not as dark as the [sherried] 1977 – though i imagine there’s definitely some sherry involvement here. This has a clear ‘old style’ that sets it apart from the last three Knockando’s and the first of the flight with an indication of smoked barley – though there seems to be next-to-no peat if only a little murky vegetal suggestion. The toffee, honey and caramel seem very deep-set, and theres quite some raw-oak notes along with a spirity side – and it appears stronger than 43%. There’s more than a subtle suggestion of TTW, rancio and leather maltiness throughout. This may have excelled with 11-12 more years in 2nd refill casks.
- T: Seemingly flat start but then it very quickly creams up in the mouth and solidifies a touch [like when making caramel]. There’s plenty of chew from a maltiness with a persistent fighting spirit that leads itself into a corner, but the [sherried] raisins and buttery=waxy mouthfeel save it from driving into a cul-de-sac.
- F: That spirity edge runs into some OBE before drying some. There’s then a Bailey’s style, creamy-boozy, milk chocolate finish with caramel and some pokey dry spirity<oak. There’s certainly some chewy maltiness to be gleaned on the finish but what’s gone previously is best focused on.
- C: Just scrapes the top spot, equal with the 1977 but for totally different reasons. This is somewhat a game of two halves.
Scores 85 points