The recently released Peatheart is the first peated expression to join the distillery’s core range of ‘AnCnoc’ range of whiskies. That’s not to say that this Knockdhu’s first ever peated whisky, far from it – over the last four years, there has been at least 9 limited edition peaty AnCnoc’s all of which have drawn their names and visual identities from the tools used to gathering peat (The ones that I’m aware of: Cutter, Flaughter, Rascan, Rudhan, Rutter, Stack, Tushkar and Peatlands). But, now Peatlands is here to provide the AnCnoc range with a permanent peaty home.
At first glance, Peatheart would appear to be the most peaty of the AnCnoc whiskies, with a PPM of 40 listed. However, unlike past bottlings which listed the bottle PPM, Peatheart lists the barley PPM – that’s always going to be a much bigger number as phenols are lost during most stage of production. It’s perhaps a shame the distillery has reverted to the industry norm here, but it is understandable. Nevertheless, whilst you should expect some smoke here, don’t be thinking that 40PPM is going put Peatheart in to the same realms as bottlings of Ardbeg and Laphroaig.
Even though Peatheart is intended to be a permanent part of the AnCnoc lineup, it’s still a batch produced whisky. Probably very large batches, but batches nonetheless. The current bottling is listed as batch 1, is produced from ex-bourbon casks, and is delivered at 46% ABV.
Nose: Bright and vibrant fruitiness – pears, green apples and tart citrus. All very orchard-like. These quickly become sweet – fruit gums, candy canes and pear drops, but are tempered by a wave of grassy smoke – akin to burning wet leaves or smouldering green twigs. There are touches of rubber and tar here as well as a delicate salinity. The addition of water brings out some vanillins as well as more tropical fruitiness in the form of pineapple and mango.
Taste: Full and oily with a rich sweet and peaty arrival. Starting again with fruitiness – very orchard, very citrus and then moving in burning green matter – fresh hay, reeds, grass, leaves etc. Earthy spice grounds both the sweet fruits and reasonably pronounced peatiness – peppers, salts, cardamom and soiliness – quite an interesting mix. In the back palette there are some floral inflections – violets, lilies and heatheriness as well as some overt drying oakiness. A few drops of water transmutes the sweetness away from fruitiness more towards toffee, and adds some gentle ginger.
Finish: Medium in length, quite tart with citrus and still presenting earthy, slightly floral peat.
AnCnoc Peatheart is crisp and garden fresh. It’s like a small, gentle bonfire outside your backdoor whilst the flowers are in bloom and the birds call for spring (which I wish they would do more of currently). Whilst it’s quite a straight-forward whisky, it’s a very well-constructed one at the same time. Reasonably priced here in the UK - £52 from Master of Malt - if you’re looking for a whisky that is both smoky, but also packed full of fresh springtime flavours, this one is worth a look.