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Monday, June 12, 2017

anCnoc Cutter 20.5ppm peated single malt

Inspired by last week's curious-but-good peated Caperdonich, I've decided to roll out a pair of peaty non-Islay malts for this week.

Today, it's anCnoc Cutter, a peaty whisky from Knockdhu distillery in Speyside. Like the anCnoc 12 and 18 year olds, this sample comes from (*DISCLOSURE*) a bottle sent to me from Amy of Ten27 Communications. Thank you, Amy.

Cutter is one of the nine NAS peated whiskies anCnoc released in 2014. Yes, nine. Though they lack age statements, eight of the nine whiskies were bottled at 46%abv and listed the peating level on the labels. Peatlands was 9ppm, Rascan 11.1ppm, Rutter 11.5ppm, Barrow 12.5ppm, Flaughter 14.8ppm, Tushkar 15ppm, Stack 20ppm and Cutter 20.5ppm. (I do believe these phenolic measurements are from pre-distillation rather than post.) Barrow was exclusive to the travel retail market, Tuskar was for Sweden, Peatlands and Stack were for continental Europe. The ninth peaty release, Rúdhan didn't have a ppm listing and was also just for travel retail. A few of these, including Rutter, Flaughter and Cutter, are/were available in The States.

Sorry, no bottle pic. The bottle was emptied quickly
at my last event.

Owner: Inver House Distillers (via Thai Beverages plc via International Beverage Holdings Ltd.)
Type: Single Malt
Region: border of Speyside and Western Highlands
Age: minimum 3 years
Maturation: probably refill American oak casks
Peat level: 20.5ppm
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chill-filtration? No
Caramel colored? No

The color is very light, possibly sub-pinot grigio amber. A good sign. The nose is very medicinal upon impact. There are also racquetballs, burnt plastic and a hint of tar. Some earthy molasses and lemon and lime zest. Really gives the feeling of decomposing veg. The warm palate has a lightly bitter and roasted side to it that reads like black coffee. A mild saltiness and sweetness softens it up. A Thai chile and black peppercorn strike hits late. With its chili pepper sting, tartness and salt, the finish is all hot sauce.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose gets a little quirky. Butter and hard cheese meets farmy peat. Lemons and a hint of florals. A little bit of vanilla-ish candy. The palate keeps its roasted note, though the whole thing is calmer. There's mild salty peat and salted Irish cream butter. Hints of bitterness and whole wheat bread in the finish, though salty peat leads the way.

One can see why anCnoc stopped at 20.5ppm for their peaty releases because Cutter feels twice as phenolic. It's a nearly nude peated whisky that doesn't feel too spirity or hot. Nor does it smell like mezcal as many other baby peated whiskies do. I like it quite a bit. This bottle also made its way to two whisky events where it was easily emptied by impressed drinkers. I got all of four pours from my (free) bottle and enjoyed them all.

I don't recommend adding water to it because dilution seems to throw it out of whack. So, again, this whisky is only suggested for peatheads, specifically peatheads looking for an Islay alternative. It would be interesting to try some of the 9-to-11ppm anCnocs to find out how they measure up to peated Highlanders like Ardmore and Benromach. Hopefully I can source a few!

Availability - Europe, United States and Japan
Pricing - $55-$80 worldwide
Rating - 86


  1. I remember liking this more than I expected, thanks for the sample! I don't mind it at all if more distilleries play with peated releases, whether or not it's an excuse to cover younger age. Also, kudos to AnCnoc for the whisky fan package: 46%/NCF/NC.

    1. Agreed, all the way through. All of these peaties have the whisky fan package, even the Travel Retail releases.

  2. If I remember correctly the PPM measurements for these whiskies are post-distillation, unlike every other release in Scotland. No idea why they decided to measure it that way since they look low in comparison to the numbers everyone else is putting out, despite the spirit being jam-packed with phenolics. Maybe something about the way they distill giving different post-distillation numbers so they aren't actually using nine different types of peated malt?

  3. @Jordan The fact there are 9 different peated products seems like the one problem with this series. Talk about creating confusion. No idea why they did that. It wouldn't be the worst thing to reduce it to 3 (low, medium, high -or- low, high, age statement). That would make it easier for their logistics, while offering clearer choices for customers. Armchair analysis!