anCnoc 16 Year: 46% abv
Background: In Review 167, we raved about the affordably reasonable anCnoc 12 Year, and how it made a case as the new staple whisky in your cabinet. Next in line in the anCnoc range is their 16 Year. KCM views this whisky as part of a dying breed, which is why this review is so important to us. At a very reasonable price of about $65 and being 16 Years old, not to mention being 46%, non chill-filtered and natural color, this whisky is truly a phenomenal offering. It is a Bourbon-barrel aged single malt from Heaven. We are wondering if whiskies like this will even exist in the next 5 years. Distilleries are driving up prices and tearing the age statements off of their whiskies for more preferable NAS ambiguity. It starts as limited releases with whimsical names, but distilleries like Macallan have taken it a step further, replacing their standard range with these mysterious no-age whiskies. anCnoc should be praised for offering a Scotch like this. Next step is to review what makes this whisky such a gem.
Nose: The nose on this whisky is undoubtedly fresh and crisp. There is a similar, beautiful maltiness in the aroma as is present in the 12 Year. That being said, the 16 Year is much more coastal, with a prominent salty seaweed smell layering into the whisky. Interestingly, you can also find a sweet, honeydew and watermelon fruitiness in this whisky, mixed in with some clove and cumin spiciness. Additionally, dry wheat and marzipan also complement the slurry of smells present in this Scotch. The nose is well diversified, complex, and dense. It displays a wide spectrum of aromas that evoke images of tropical paradise.
Arrival: The arrival starts light and soft, portraying a subtle vanilla bean and malt flavor. A slight spiciness will creep into the flavor as the whisky opens up. There is a creamy, buttery flavor in the arrival, with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg coming through later. There is slight fruitiness, with succulent apples and sweet melon that carries into the body. After a few sips, a more salty, peppery flavor becomes pronounced.
Body: The body takes on a blend of salty coastal character and a sweet, fruity flavor. The maltiness is lost in the body and the whisky takes a more bitter, vegetal personality. There is a sound dosage of spices that comes through in the body, with warm cinnamon and cloves.
Finish: The finish ends with a mixture of spices, saltiness, and sweet fruits. It balances well with all of these characteristics, and none seem to over-dominate. The 46% is most pronounced here. The melon character is more prevalent here than in the body, but seems to battle with a peppery, dry finish. There is a dry malty, oak-like character in the finish, with hot spices layering on top. There is an ashy, oak char flavor that works its way into the whisky pretty successfully after a few sips as well.
Nose: After adding some water, the nose brings out a more custard-like, fruit-yogurt smell, while letting the intense spiciness get a little more bold. There is a little more harsh grain in the whisky at this point as well. Some of the vanilla is pulling through now as well. The whisky is still pleasantly balanced, but the nose seems more harsh now, with a bit more tart sourness in the fruit flavors.
Arrival: There is a much more bold malt flavor in the arrival now, which suits the anCnoc character very well. There is still some spice, and the melon has backed off in the arrival.
Body: The body shows off some beautiful lime flavor (maybe like a key lime pie?), but not in an uncomfortably tart way. This plays along with the gorgeous malty flavor.
Finish: The coastal flavor in the whisky is really coming out now, with the intense spiciness backing off. Between the melon and tart fruits and the sea salt flavors, the balance of this whisky is more enjoyable and the alcohol less noticeable. There is a little bit of smoke that plays into the finish, but it isn’t horribly dominant. It is also a fairly herbal, vegetal finish, containing some fresh mint and parsley.
Final Comments: This is another wallop of a whisky from anCnoc. There is really an enjoyable, complex whisky with a great spectrum of flavors. It also provides a substantial amount of contrast from the 12 Year. If you get the opportunity to try this, we would recommend it. On the other side of the coin, this can be an intense whisky if you aren’t used to the high content. Again, it is a shame that we feel like teenage whiskies at an affordable price and going extinct, when stuff like this is affordable and amazing. Hopefully we are wrong in that projection, but while this is still available, find it and love it.
Why you’d buy it: You like a good well-rounded Highland malt
Why you wouldn’t: You are willing to go for an Old Pulteney 17 Year