Knockando was founded in 1898 by John Thomson as the Knockando-Glenlivet Distillery Company. The little huddle of traditional distillery buildings, complete with an elegant pagoda roof, lie in the town of the same name overlooking the River Spey. The name derives from the Scottish Gaelic ‘cnoc an dhu’ or ‘little black hill’. Knockando has long been associated as a superb blending product, having spent much its working life providing malt whisky for J&B blends, of which it is a major component. The new make spirit is matured mostly in ex-American whisk(e)y barrels, namely those of Makers Mark and Jack Daniels.
The capacity is rather small at a mere 1.29 million litres per annum. Just 8% of the spirit is reserved for bottling as single malt and this is kept and matured in the five onsite warehouses. The rest of the outturn is shipped to Diageo’s central warehousing facilities. The Knockando distillery was purchased in 1904 by the gin giants W and A Gilbey for the sum of £3,500 and remained under their watchful eye until 1962, when they merged with United Wine Traders to form International Distillers and Vintners. Justerini and Brooks were amongst the group, thus the association with J&B.
The vast majority of Knockando single malt is exported; the chief market being the European mainland. As far as labelling goes, Knockando has few peers; rather than stating the age, vintages are given, though standard releases are afforded to the American market, who have yet to take to this marketing style.