A story of anCnoc 12 and a failed comparison
Comparisons are something I like to do, comparing whiskies which either share similar DNA or older versus new bottlings. One issue that you can have when comparing older and newer bottles is the condition of the older one.
I had every intention of using this cheap miniature I picked up at auction to compare anCnoc 12 three decades apart. However, we have an issue.
Since I started picking up miniatures at auction, I have had a few that smell and taste old; and not in a good way. I would describe it as a mustiness like old cupboards. I would also describe it as smelling like my dearly departed Nana’s front room, which I feel bad for saying, as she was a lovely woman and certainly wasn’t in any way dirty and kept a very tidy house, but there is something about the smell of that room which was a bit musty and a bit “old”. It was an old house. I think other people will know what I am talking about. This whisky unfortunately falls into that camp.
Is this a severe case of Old Bottle Effect (OBE)? I’m not really qualified to say. Is it that these miniatures suffer more for time in glass than a full size equivalent would? Perhaps, especially if they haven’t been stored well and been exposed to direct sunlight or strong aromas. Then again, I have also had miniatures of blends from the 1950’s that showed no signs of this and were excellent. The seal and fill level were good on this anCnoc, the cap seems in perfect condition inside and out, so I’m a bit puzzled. If you have experienced this and have any answers do let me know.
I strongly suspect any comparison of old v new, whilst interesting, is ultimately flawed by the widely believed fact that whisky does age in glass. Glass is not completely inert, the seal isn’t 100% air tight, so it stands to reason that things will change. It’s one reason some believe older bottlings are better because of bottle ageing, rather than whisky being made better in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s. The late Silvano Samaroli bottled young whiskies from the likes of Ardbeg and Glen Garioch, which he believed improved vastly for 30 years in glass, and he should know.
The miniature I was hoping to use as a comparison today is only a 1990’s bottle (according to the auction listing). I would say this has been impacted by this mustiness to the extent where I would say it is not worth persevering with drinking and the best thing for it is to be disposed of down the sink. It was particularly bad on the palate.
Not to worry, we can plug on and look at the current bottling and see what that is like instead. It is regularly discounted to £30 on offer, it carries a nice 12 year old age statement. The negatives are it is unfortunately bottled at 40%, is chill filtered and has colour added. The colour has thankfully been added with restraint looking at the golden tone of the liquid.
anCnoc 12 Years Old – Review
It says 08/02/2022 on the back of the bottle, so that I think we can safely assume was the bottling date.
Nose : Bright and fruity. Sweet citrus fruit (mostly lemon), apple and honey come through strongly. There is also icing sugar and marshmallow continuing the sweet theme, along with vanilla, oak, bread and porridge. It’s a good start.
Palate : More of the same with the citrus and honey, but this time the honey is a bit richer and we get more oak coming through. Those are the domineering flavours – Lemon, Honey, Wood. Beyond that there is sweetness at first, before that oak brings out bitterness, with the slight prickle of pepper, aniseed, vanilla and toasted hazelnut. The sweet eating apple from the nose isn’t there, but there is a touch of apple peel. A creamy, oaky, bitterness lingers into the finish.
Conclusions : Light and inoffensive, this will appeal to many I am sure, but after a promising start on the nose, it is a bit dull on the palate. Lemon, honey and oak dominate. There’s nothing bad, but nothing to excite. Pour this on a warm summer evening and you’ll be perfectly happy. I’m not a big fan of overt woody oak flavours, so if that is your bag you may appreciate this more.
Overall it lacks the quality of the excellent 18 and 24 year old bottlings from the distillery, and the range is crying out for something naturally presented at a lower price point. You are looking at over £90 now for the 18 year old. We need a 14-16 year old, ideally from bourbon casks, at around the £60 point to bridge the gap, or an all natural 12 year old under £50. Anybody who tried the old 16 year expression which is sadly no longer available will tell you how great it can be.
I don’t 100% understand who they are targeting this at. I have never seen it in a supermarket like you will with Inver House’s other 40% 12 year old, Old Pulteney. I can understand the mass market appeal of that, but I would suggest most casual drinkers rarely see this. Inver House are happy to put Balblair 12 our there at 46%, non-chill filtered and natural colour. I don’t see why they can’t replicate that here.
If you are thinking of buying this, I would say you were better off buying Glencadam 10 or Balblair 12 to get a better quality bourbon cask experience at a reasonable price, but if it’s cheap enough, feel free to take a punt.
Score : 5/10 Average
(Score descriptions can be found in the About page)
Three Word Review : Lemon. Honey. Oak.
Related review : anCnoc 18
ABV : 40%
Non-chill filtered : No
Natural Colour : No
Maturation : Bourbon casks
Region : Highland
Colour : Warm Gold