anCnoc distillery visit

Knock DhuI should have written Knockdhu distillery of course (or Knock Dhu), but the name anCnoc is better known. Knockdhu is the distillery and anCnoc the name of the whisky. I believe it was introduced a couple of years ago to avoid confusion with Knockando.

Knockdhu, like many other distilleries, started as a typical farm distillery in 1893. There’s still a kiln with malting floor on site, but it isn’t used any more, as most of the plant is now fairly modern and highly energy-efficient.

In the near future, it will also be more ecological, thanks to the creation of a couple of ponds that will filter the different kinds of liquid residues of the distillery. Specific plants will make sure they are turned back into clear water. It’s cost-saving and good for our planet, a win-win situation!


New warehouses at KnockdhuTwo of their warehouses collapsed during the winter of 2010 and had to be knocked down completely. They’ve now been rebuilt in a traditional way (dunnage style, wooden structure), they look quite stunning and they’re ready to be filled.

Distillery manager Gordon Bruce (always surrounded by his dogs Meg and Tosca) is a very dedicated man. He may seem a bit silent at first but once you get him started – especially on all kinds of technical bits and pieces – he’ll happily give you every little detail you wanted to know.


anCnoc 35 yearsJust like at Balblair distillery, more and more peated spirit is produced at Knockdhu, well over 25% this year. With the current single malt hype, Islay distilleries are increasingly reluctant to sell their newmake to third parties, and most blenders require a certain amount of peated spirit to spice up their products. Gordon wasn’t very clear on this, but I think a peated anCnoc expression could see the light in the future (though maybe not the immediate future). We were able to try some peated cask samples (e.g. a heavily peated 5yo) and they were really good, too good to be blended away actually.

The best surprise was a sample of a 1982 bourbon cask, very fresh and full of gooseberries, coconut, honey-coated barley and ginger. Some vanilla and floral notes as well. Simply excellent.

A couple of days ago, the new anCnoc 35 years old expression was released, bottled at cask strength 44,3%, matured in both bourbon and sherry casks and available for around € 250. I’ve heard it’s quite good, let’s hope we’ll be able to taste it in the near future.