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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Knockandone: Knockando 21 year old 1962 Extra Old Reserve (Justerini & Brooks, Dateo Import)

Photo, from LAWS, may or may not
be of the actual bottle reviewed here. 
Our Knockando journey which started in 1999 now ends in 1962.  1962 was the year the whisky in the bottle was distilled, back when Knockando utilized its own floor maltings, back when they were owned by International Distillers & Vintners.  It was bottled in 1984, long after the maltings were closed and Grand Metropolitan (future Diageo) had taken over.  According to whiskybase, the "Extra Old Reserve" bottlings had started just a few years earlier, joining the 12 year old in the distillery's single malt range.  Like the 12yos, this one has its vintage year listed, as well as the bottling year.  Unique to the range, though, was the fancier looking square decanter, which is a pain in the ass to pour from.

Distillery: Knockando
Ownership at time of bottling: Grand Metropolitan (via Justerini & Brooks)
Importer: Dateo
Type: Single Malt
Region: Speyside (Central)
Age: 21 years
Distilled: 1962
Bottled: 1984
Maturation: dunno, but there are probably ex-sherry casks in the mix
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
(Sample purchased from LA Scotch Club)

The color is medium gold, darker than the previous four whiskies from this series, and less orange than the 1999.  The first thing I notice in the nose is the peat!  A definite medium level peating.  Then grains like barley and corn.  Then orange oil termite treatment in a moldy basement.  In a good way.  Sheep (yep, sheep), followed by caramel and basil leaves.  After 20+ minutes in the glass, a note of refill sherry casks comes along.  Think hot cocoa and toffee, or perhaps a Heath Bar.  The sherry and peat smoke grow with additional time.  The oily-textured palate is grassy and mossy with a medium sweetness.  Mild sherry and the basement note, again.  Toffee pudding with a glass of Campari.  Moments of salt and mango.  With time, a hint of something darker and industrial arises, followed by a hint of something brighter, like citrus peels.  The finsh is mild and barley-ish with toffee and orange peel.  Hints of hard cheese, black pepper, and peach.  A lemon/grapefruit tartness.

As the nose and palate sizzled, this was shaping up to be a 90+ point whisky, but then the finish fizzled.  Andy, who furnished the bottle, wondered if it felt a bit too watered down at this ABV.  While I didn't find that problem on the nose and palate, it may explain the weakish finale.  On the bright side of things -- and things are almost totally bright with this whisky -- the peating works wonders in the nose, as do the sherry casks.  Both are present and contribute well to the whole without overtaking the experience.  The palate has a slight edge to it that raises it above an average decent Speysider.

Of the six Knockandos from this series, this 21yo 1962 and the 12yo 1966 were my favorites.  There wasn't a stinker in the bunch.  Each was slightly different, thanks to variables like cask types, barley sources, Old Bottle Effect levels, and (maybe) vintage variation.  I have been told the sherry cask Knockandos can be dynamite, and I'm sure this 1962 hinted as much.  Otherwise, I enjoyed the cask selection in these whiskies, and admire the blending work required to produce a good single malt.  Thank you to Cobo, Florin, and LASC for making these two Knockando weeks possible.

Availability - Auctions
Pricing - ???
Rating - 88