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Thursday, May 28, 2015

More Knockando for you: Knockando 26 year old 1980 Duncan Taylor Peerless

With today's Knockando we're taking a step back to 1980.  This the only independent bottling of my Knockando review sextet, as well as the one that spent the most time in its cask.  Indie bottlings of Knockando are rare, likely due to the cask hoarding Diageo chooses to do for the popular J&B blend.  Whiskybase lists only 18 indies; The Malt Monitor lists only 7; Serge has reviewed only 4.  Diving For Pearls now has 1.

Distillery: Knockando
Bottler: Duncan Taylor
Range: Peerless
Type: Single Malt
Region: Speyside (Central)
Age: 26 years
Distilled: June 1980
Bottled: March 2007
Maturation: perhaps a refill ex-bourbon barrel?
Cask #: 1912
Bottle count: 268
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
(Thanks to Cobo for the sample!!!)

The color is a light amber, even after 26 years in the cask.  The nose starts grassy and ends grassy.  The next largest note is fruity, a combo of mango, nectarines, and lemons.  There's a floral burst, right between blossoms and floral soap.  Then secondary notes of pineapple, apple juice, and honey.  Occasionally there's a slight musty thing going on, as well as a hint of solvent.  After about 30 minutes, a solid lemongrass note develops.  The palate has some caramel poured over grilled pears.  The whole pot o' honey.  Cinnamon bark, vanilla frosting, almond skins, honeydew, and toasty grains.  The sweetness goes right to the edge, but never teeters into Too Much territory.  The sweet finish is full of honey, pear juice, vanilla frosting, and witbier.

For its age this is feels like a young and spritely thing.  The honey characteristic is reminiscent of yesterday's 1999 official bottling.  And similar to that whisky, there's quite a lot of spirit character in play in this one.  I think its age mostly shows up in the subtleties of the nose and palate.  Since Duncan Taylor chose to only bottle this cask at 46%abv, I don't know if it would have been bigger or better at full power, but it's still very nice at this strength.  But, with all things considered, it's only slightly better than the 12yo 1999.  Happily this wasn't terribly expensive back in the day.  Imagine, a 26 year old single malt selling for €86!

Availability - Happy Hunting!
Pricing - around €86 in 2007
Rating - 85

(For a very different opinion of this whisky, see Serge's review.  For a third review, see the one from 'bakerman' on Whiskybase.  His notes couldn't be more different than Serge's and mine.  Apparently this stuff is a Rorschach Test.)


  1. Thats the one i revisted yesterday. My first notes were somehow fatal - i really only had cheap schnaps notes. Yesterday I discovered a more complex side of it with all those mentioned fruits. For me it's still not a great whisky, but much better as I had it in mind. Personally I just prefer the sherried Knockando versions over the pure ex-bourbon ones

    1. I do appreciate when whiskies get better as the level on the bottle drops. I find that more with ex-bourbon or refill matured whiskies. Often the good sherried ones start off with a bang.

    2. Well, there are at least two kinds of whiskies that improve with time.

      There are those that improve in the open bottle - often the cask-strength, ex-bourbon ones as you mention, which start off very hot but as they oxidate they mellow and reveal their soft aromatic side, I've had many of those.

      And then there are those that improve in your mind. With these you realize over time that you had them wrong - the whisky was there all along, but you didn't show up. The Knockando 12yo/1999 was in this category for me, as were a few others (a ~2005 Dalmore 12yo among them). I was put off by its apparently simple, sweet sherry offerings that I did not appreciate all the goods lurking just beyond the surface. Once I discovered the peaty-salty counterpoint though, I was hooked.

    3. I suppose we have to give these whiskies enough time to reveal themselves, in either form, before we write them off altogether.

  2. Reviewing 25% of the number of Knockando that Serge has is impressive! You'd have to review 93.5 more Caol Ilas hit 25% of his reviews for that distillery!

    1. That's a hell of a lot of Caol Ila. He has such a head start that I'll be lucky if I ever hit 5%.