There was little aroma when nosed from the bottle, which right away suggests a milder whisky. I poured some in a Glencairn glass, took a few sips, and then added a splash of water to open it up a bit. Here are my initial impressions:
The nose is light, grassy. Definitely none of the fruity sweetness you get from a sherried Speyside. Very clean, almost grainy. Light sweetness, bubblegum, and a mineral smell my brain associates with a crushed brick, or maybe chalk dust.
In the mouth it is light-bodied, peppery, almost salty. Surprisingly dry. A bit of honey. Not a ton of development as it spreads across the tongue. It finishes dry and somewhat bitter. Long finish considering the light flavour.
Not what I expected. I don't dislike it but it has neither the robust Speyside sweetness nor the pungent smoke of a coastal malt. Almost seems more Lowland in style.
Toward the end of the glass I get more bourbony notes. This is possibly a whisky that will take some time to appreciate, which is all right.
I recall this particular malt displaying a very bright, pineapple-like fruit quality and excellent balance, and have been considering replenishing that An Cnoc 'hole' on my shelf.
anyway: i liked it a lot. i even liked it a little more than the 16, but strangely enough if i had to purchase only one of them again i would purchase the 16. this because while the 12 is a little better it plays in the same flavour ballpark as some of my favorite speysides which i think are far superior (the balvenie 15 year old single casks, for instance). the 16 stands out for not going down the sherry route. off the top of my head i would say the 16 reminds me of the glenlivet 18 (which i haven't had in almost 7 months now).
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