Knockando Distillery was built in 1898 in the village of the same name by John Tytler Thomson. The name is from the Gaelic Cnoc Chennachd, meaning ‘Hill of Trade’ or ‘Hill of Commerce’.
Thomson chose the location of the distillery well… The start of the Strathspey Railway lay close by and legendary distillery architect Charles Doig was operating out of nearby Elgin. His services were promptly secured to design and build the facilities at Knockando.
Scotch whisky has long had a cyclical boom and bust nature and unfortunately at the time of Knockando’s birth, one of the worst crises to affect the scotch industry was just around the corner.
The Pattison Crash of 1898 saw the famous Pattison’s Blended Whisky brand declared bankrupt as a result of serious mismanagement. The left behind a long list of debtors – some of which would never recover – while simultaneously destroying confidence in the industry in general. Many distilleries closed, amongst them, Knockando. The future looked bleak for this young distillery.
Then, in 1903, the distillery was saved by Gin producer W. & A. Gilbey who, being relatively unscathed by the problems facing the whisky industry, saw an opportunity to gain access to the scotch market at a good price. This was the start of a new chapter and by 1904 the distillery was being updated and expanded.
Today, Knockando is owned by Diageo and is available in 12, 15, 18 and 21 year old expressions. Interestingly, in a move normally reserved for independent bottlings, the 12 year old is packaged with a vintage, as well as an age statement. It’s a nice touch, because the more information we are given about the liquid in the bottle, the happier I am and I enjoy pondering what I may have been up to when the dram in my glass was rolling off the stills…
For the record, the bottle I have in front of me is the 2000 vintage. It’s bottled at 43% abv and should come in around the £35 mark.
The Scores: About the Scoring…
Smell: 15.5 / 20. The nose is Malty with Apple, Honey, Vanilla, Cinnamon and Clove. Very enticing with a hint of winter about it.
Taste: 16 / 20. Tasting of Warm Spices, Honey, Biscuit, Apples and Pears, it carries decent weight and offers a satisfying mouthful.
Value for Money: 8.5 / 10. Considering the asking price of £35 or thereabouts, this is a well presented, good quality single malt.
Overall: 40 / 50. Should appeal to fans of the traditional speyside style but carries enough weight and character in it’s own right to appeal across the board.