AnCnoc 16 vs Longmorn 16

June 1st, 2012

Ah, a pair of sweet sixteens.  But if they’re old enough to legally have sex, they’re old enough to kill each other for our amusement…

More than half of Scotland’s distilleries are crammed into a little triangular patch of northeast Scotland around the river Spey.  Lots of variation between Speyside distilleries, therefore, and a lot of variation within their ranges, including a cornucopia of different wood finishes, ages, barleys, and maybe even the occasional peated edition, but making a massive and inaccurate generalisation classic Speysides are without or relatively light on the peat and tend to come in two rough types.  Those which have spent some or all of their maturation time in barrels that once held sherry, and which therefore tend to be relatively dark, sweet and fruity, in the manner of a Macallan, and those which have spent all their time in ex-Bourbon barrels, and tend to be relatively light, spicy and floral, a la Glenlivet, say.  Today’s grudge match is between two sixteen year old expressions of the latter type.  Let the violence begin…

 anCnoc 16 – 46% ABV, £45.95

Longmorn 16 – 48% ABV, £48.75

LOOK – The first thing you notice is the Longmorn’s crazy presentation.  Clearly they are going for prestige branding, and the result, one would have to say, is a little over the top.  Articulated box with magnetic strip bearing the legend, “the hidden jewel of Speyside.”  The bottle is quite a pleasant shape, but is a leather foot really necessary?  Perhaps if one lives in an earthquake zone.  Certainly unnecessary is the strange metal tab thing around the neck reading “single malt scotch whisky,” presumably so you don’t confuse it with the washing up liquid or something.  To quote Donald Sutherland in the Dirty Dozen, “very pretty, Colonel, very pretty.  But can they fight?”  There’s a sense of trying just a little too hard.  anCnoc, on the other hand, may not be trying quite hard enough.  Its simple, contemporary tube informs us that, ‘curiously, the Single Malt produced from the Knockdu distillery is not named after the distillery.’  In fact it was until recently, but it sounded a bit too like another distillery, Knockando, so they called it anCnoc instead.  The bottle’s got a plastic cap.  That always bugs me slightly.  Can’t we stretch to a wooden cap on what are, after all, reasonably pricey bottles of whisky?  The anCnoc is pretty pale, probably coming second only to the Bladnoch in the bottle of wee impersonation test.  The Longmorn is, to me, a slightly more appetising tawny gold kind of colour.

SMELL – These two are actually very similar.  Both pleasantly sniffable, especially considering they’re both bottled pretty strong.  If I had to say something, and I do, or this is going to be a hell of a dull deathmatch, I’d say the Longmorn has a soft, malty, cereally, shreddies-y kind of a sense to it, while the anCnoc has a slightly sharper, fruitier smell, perhaps a bit of can of pineapple chunks going on.

TASTE – Again, pretty similar.  Both very drinkable, summery malts with a good bit of spice.  Differences of emphasis rather than differences of style.  The Longmorn is a lot thicker feeling in the mouth.  Lots of spice, a longer finish.  Tingly, peppery, oaky.  Probably a bigger flavour.  The anCnoc is thinner, sharper, crisper, the spice coming on a bit later and more gently.  A bit of lemon in there.  Tough one to judge this, actually, they’re nice enough but they don’t arouse strong feelings in me.  They don’t make me want to get metaphorical.  And that’s what we’re here for, right?

CONCLUSION – Two pleasant unsherried Speysides without a lot to choose between them.  Longmorn 16 – Sweet-ish, malty, very spicy, perhaps for those a little more concerned with image over substance?  Recommended PoV – Jezal dan Luthar.  anCnoc 16 – Sweet-ish, malty, spicy, a citrus edge .  Recommended PoV – Hmmm.  Don’t know about that one.  No one particularly suggests themselves.  Perhaps I find this a slightly uninspiring whisky.  Or perhaps I lack for pleasant, middle-of-the road characters, I couldn’t say…

RESULT – Tough, tough, tough, and we’re coming down to details.  The Longmorn a little more expensive, but bottled that touch stronger.  The anCnoc a tad more drinkable, the Longmorn a tad more challenging.  The Longmorn arriving at a smart casual event in a Tuxedo, the anCnoc in torn jeans.  Both mildly missing the presentational mark but the Longmorn at least is trying harder.  A firmer, more assertive mouthfeel too, so manoeuvring its leather foot into the next round by a whisker…

The Winner – LONGMORN 16.

That tab really needs to be removed, though.  Loosen your rhinestone-studded bow-tie, Longmorn…

Coming next – peatsmoke pugilism between no age statement Islay bruisers Bruichladdich Infinity and Ardbeg Corryvreckan.

Posted in whisky deathmatch by Joe Abercrombie on June 1st, 2012.

18 comments so far

  • Michael says:

    Can’t quite see the ad exec’s at Longmorn tagging their blurb with ‘smells like shreddies’!! Mind you it looks like the’ve used a local goth to design the leather footing and neck brace.

  • Denver Chalmers says:

    Hi Joe I am astounded to discover that I have not tried either of these whiskies, a dreadfull oversight which I will have to put right. I dont collect whiskies I drink them but I usually keep a large selection of malts in various stages between full bottle and last dram at the bottom. Bruichladdich I can speak highly of all their wares same with the Ardbeg, but a couple for you to look out for Leadig from the Isle of Mull I have a 21 year old I had two but hey you know I dont collect them….but I am keeping one for my sons 21st birthday, a superb whisky that dances on your tongue and comes to life with a tiny splash of water. The other is a Speyside Malt the Glenrothes I have a few of these opened and on the go and they are all superb but a special mention goes to the 1991 special reserve.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    I think the marketing execs at Longmorn are trying a bit too hard.

    I’ve had a Glenrothes before and seem to remember enjoying it, though that was a while ago before I was drinking them very discerningly. Probably it’s in a similar sort of style to these two, actually.

  • Chris says:

    I think you are just getting shit-faced and picking the coolest-looking bottle.

  • innokenti says:

    I’ve had an anCnoc before, but not a 16. Rather enjoyed it for the simplicity and I don’t think I was too picky as I hadn’t paid for it…

    Not sure I’m too tempted to try out the Longmorn though.

  • Ian Hickman says:

    I’m curious as to how the leather foot impacts upon the bottles ability to be used in an impromptu bar fight. Would the leather foot actually soften the blow, or would it actually work to keep the bottle from splintering, making it an effective club?

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    And what if I am?

    Both nice enough, but I don’t think I’d make a big recommendation for either of these unless un-sherried Speyside was totally your thing.

    A fascinating question, but one probably better answered by a bar fighter than a whisky drinker.

  • James says:

    I now foresee the Bloody Nine smashing someone with a bottle and wondering why it hasn’t shattered only to realise it’s got a leather foot. Not a man to be put off by a lack of shattering the bloody nine will proceed to make full use of his effective club.

  • Jacob says:

    POV’s for each bottle Joe?

  • Curtis says:

    Cmon James ya know the nine would smash it even with a metal foot he’d just keep hitting ubtil it broke.

  • AntMac says:

    Hmm. I had a look for some of these in a local bottleshop.

    They get expensive when they come 11000 miles away from home.

    I prefer the darker coloured ones from a visual perspective, gives you something to look into.

  • JMa says:

    Joe, my man….in America, you can’t legally have sex until you’re 18.

    Or did you know that….?

  • AntMac says:

    ‘Cause he did.

    He just wanted you to know how much fun the rest of us are allowed to have!.


    (disclaimer. This was a joke. To be perfectly blunt, 16 year old women are actually boring for anyone not under 18 themselves. )

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Depends where you are in America. Large parts of it are 16, some 17, some as high as 21.

    But I come from the UK.

    And so does Scotch.

  • Ian S says:

    Some of the best tasting notes I have ever seen. Im very tempted to go out and buy all 15 bottles to play along at home. Sadly im not that lucky so will wait to see who wins. My moneys on the Balvenie.

  • Connor says:

    I think that, for all the least inspiring whiskys that don’t immediately suggest a character PoV, you should just say Ardee. Surely she’d drink any of them.

  • […] already witnessed a perhaps slightly underwhelming clash between unsherried Speysides, now two well matured sherried Speysides step into the ring, which is to say whiskies that have […]

  • […] 16 very narrowly defeated AnCnoc 16 in a slightly uninspiring match between two unsherried Speysides that I found to be very similar. I […]

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