Dram Review: anCnoc Peter Arkle ‘Bricks’

I was sent this sample by anCnoc, and you may be the judge of whether or not this has affected the impartiality of my review.

Peter Arkle describes himself as a “freelance illustrator of books magazines and ads” (this from his website), and he was apparently inspired when visiting the home of anCnoc single malt, Knockdhu distillery. This has led to a range of limited edition “Peter Arkle” releases, of which “Bricks” is the 4th. Each time, Peter Arkle designs the bottle sleeve.

The thing is, I just can’t seem to get the connection between the illustrator and what is in the bottle. I have tried 3 of the 4 of the series now, and whilst they are all reasonable whiskies, there is no story I can find (even reading the descriptions of the whiskies on the anCnoc website) that links the whisky in the bottle to either the illustrator or the illustrations. I understand that the bottle designs each reflect something interesting about the distillery, but then why can’t these be limited edition designs for the standard 12 or 16 year old expressions?

The lack of interesting story behind each new liquid makes me somewhat apathetic when I hear about each new release. Perhaps this is just the view of one consumer that is more interested in the story of the liquid than the story of the bottle, and I may well not be in the majority on this. I buy whisky for what is in the bottle and whether the idea of it, or the taste (if I have had it before), excites me at the right price.

So, with that in mind what are the bottle contents like? Here are the dramstats:

ancnocbricks

  • Price £50
  • ABV 46%
  • No colouring
  • Non chill filtered

Nose: Rubber balloons at first, some raisin and cereal notes as well. After 5 minutes, fig rolls come through and these are really nice. Nutrigrain cereal bars with date filling. The rubber keeps distracting me between sniffs though. With water some apple comes through as the bourbon fights to be heard, then blood orange and lime with vanilla cream.

Palate: Juicy raisins on the delivery and the fig rolls really come through. Water brings out vanilla and some white chocolate.

Finish: Spicy and biscuity, a touch of white chocolate vanilla with drying oak and some orange pith bitterness.

Verdict: Can’t decide if I prefer this with water or without. Without it’s all raisins and fig rolls, which I love, and with the bourbon notes come through and it’s much more interesting. The rubber notes are annoying but I would still enjoy a bottle of this and £50 is an OK price, though maybe more than I am really happy with.

Whilst the whisky is enjoyable enough, two problems stand out. (1): The bar set by the standard 12 year old (£34) and the standard 16 (£62) is extremely high and this limited edition struggles to reach it. (2): I just can’t find a connection between the drawing of a brick wall on the carton and label and the whisky in the bottle or the uniqueness of the distillery it comes from. The quality of the standard 12 and 16 (particularly the 16 which I absolutely love) is such that I would not buy a bottle of this limited edition over either of those.

anCnoc Peter Arkle Facebook tasting

Last night was the first Facebook whisky tasting I’ve taken part in or ever heard of. Having attended lots of twitter tastings (the first of which was anCnoc), the idea to try a different social media seemed a good one.

We were sent 2 samples. One of the anCnoc Peter Arkle Travel Retail exclusive, and one of the Peter Arkle limited edition #2. Here are the dramstats:

  • Peter Arkle Travel retail exclusive
  • Non coloured
  • Non chill filtered
  • ABV 46%
  • Ex Bourbon Cask
  • Price £36.99

Nose: Honey, Orange, Sweet lemon sherbet, touch of sea salt, tea cakes, chalk, vanilla.

Palate: Lemon and honey lockets, white pepper, toffee and vanilla.

Finish: White pepper, juicy raisins and dates.

Verdict: Lovely bourbon cask, very drinkable. At the price I’d be a happy buyer. I really enjoyed the nose on this one.

  • Peter arkle limited edition #2
  • ABV 46%
  • Non coloured
  • Non chill filtered
  • Mixture of bourbon and sherry casks

Nose: Raspberry and red apple jam, oak, caramel, burnt rubber, furniture polish and sherried fruit notes. I am not a fan of the burnt rubber note. It seems to get in the way of the fruity notes.

Palate: Dry, oaky and fruit. Some raisin and sherry before chilli takes over.

Finish: Chilli, werthers original and supermarket brand milk chocolate raisins.

Verdict: I like the chilli note from the palate into the finish, but I’m really not a fan of the nose. The fruit is nice, but there is an unpleasant note for me that spoiled my enjoyment. Not one I would buy, personally.

Overall verdict: Firstly a verdict on facebook as a place to hold whisky tastings. It doesn’t work. The site never refreshes and, in the end, I had to use my phone to get semi-frequent comments. Twitter just seems much better designed for live type conversation required for whisky tastings.

Of the two drams, the travel retail was a clear winner for me. Of course, my word is not gospel, many tasters on the night preferred the limited edition, so it could be worth a go, but I wouldn’t buy it for myself. If you don’t plan to travel soon but would like to try anCnoc, I can heartily recommend the 16 year old, a bottle I’ve bought twice in the past. The 12 is also excellent.

Lastly, I’d just like to say thank anCnoc for bottling at 46%, not adding colour and not chill filtering. It really makes a difference to the quality of whisky!