The Knockando Distillery was built by John Tytler Thomson who took the name from the Gaelic Cnoc Chennachd, meaning ‘Hill of Trade’. Thomson chose his site well, placing his 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 the Knockando spirit was in production by 1898.
Scotch whisky has long been famed for it’s cycles of boom and bust however and Knockando was just 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’s brothers declared bankrupt, leaving a trail of debtors in their wake, many of whom would never recover. Distilleries across the land were forced to close, young 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. This increased transparency on the part of distillers is to be celebrated.
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.
Value for Money: A well presented, quality single malt.
Score: 40 / 50.
An enjoyable, warming dram, ideal sipping after a brisk walk on an Autumn day.
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