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Knockando was established by John Tytler Thomson. He took the name from the Gaelic Cnoc Chennachd, meaning Hill of Trade. Thomson chose his site well, placing the distillery close to the Strathspey Railway and all the advantages it brought. The services of legendary architect Charles Doig of Elgin were employed to design and build the distillery from the ground up and production of new make spirit began in 1898.
Scotch whisky has long been famed for its cycles of boom and bust, however, and Knockando was one of many victims of perhaps the worst downturn in the entire history of the industry. At the end of the 19th century, the “Pattison Crash” saw the famous Pattison brothers declared bankrupt. They left a trail of debtors in their wake, many of whom would never recover. Distilleries across the land were forced to close, Knockando among them.
The turn of the century brought new confidence however and in 1903, Knockando was acquired by Gin producer W. & A. Gilbey. Unscathed by the whisky industries troubles, Gilbey’s seized the opportunity to gain a foothold in the potentially lucrative Scotch market at a cut price. By 1904, Knockando was being upgraded and expanded to cope with the rising demand of a recovering market.
Today, Knockando is under the stewardship of Diageo with 12, 15, 18 and 21-year-old expressions available. Commendably, the 12-year-old is labelled with a vintage alongside the far more common age statement.
The 2000 vintage 12 year old is bottled at 43% abv and available in the UK for around £35.
Smell: Malty with apple, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and clove.
Taste: Warm spices. Honey, biscuit, apple and pear. Carries decent weight and offers a satisfying mouthful.
Thoughts: An affordable and pleasant Speyside malt with an enjoyable, gentle warmth. At 43% it isn’t going to blow your mind but there’s enough character there to make it interesting. An interesting malt that flies under most people’s radar.
If the whisky featured in this review has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission should you make a purchase after following a link from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.