Nc'nean Organic Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


Annabel Thomas was a management consultant in the United Kingdom. In 2013, she dreamed of having her family start a distillery. Annabel stepped away from her consulting job and trekked to Islay to learn how whisky was made. What she saw disappointed her.


Distilleries were using non-organic barley. They used a lot of gas, electricity, and oil during production. Wasn’t there some way a distillery could produce great whiskey while being kind to nature?


Annabel started raising money to find out. In the meantime, she consulted with Dr. Jim Swan to set things up as she wanted. Dr. Swan helped design the distillery, and four years later, Annabel was distilling her organic Highland Scotch whisky and releasing it to the public in 2020. The Nc’nean Distillery was no longer just a dream!


She procures her barley from Scotland’s east coast and tinkers with yeasts used typically for wine and rum production. Fermentation occurs over five days. Aging occurs in either former Bourbon barrels or red wine casks for at least three years. The distillery is entirely fueled by renewable energy. Once fully matured, the whisky is packaged in 100% recyclable glass bottles. Nc’nean was the first distillery in the UK to do this.


Nc’nean is B-Corp certified, meaning it adheres to strict, verifiable, and often reviewed standards that include environmental issues and accounting, hiring, legal, and others. In 2021, it was the first whisky distillery in the UK verified as net zero emissions for scopes 1 and 2 and carbon neutral for scope 3.


What does the unusual name Nc’nean mean, and why was it chosen?


“Our name is an abbreviation of Neachneohain, known as the Queen of Spirits in Gaelic legend, and our guiding star. She was a huntress, a fierce protector of nature and never afraid to walk her own path. We try to follow this ethos in everything we do.” – Nc’nean Distillery


Nc’nean’s Organic Single Malt Scotch Whisky is bottled at 46% ABV (92°). The Bourbon and STR wine casks used naturally impart all the color. It is non-chill filtered and certified organic as GB-ORG-06 by the Biodynamic Agricultural Association. A 700ml runs about $79.99.


How does it taste? Nc’nean’s US distributor, ImpEx Beverages, provided me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review, and I thank them for that. Let’s #DrinkCurious and get this question answered!


Appearance: I poured this Scotch into a Glencairn glass to sip neat. The yellow gold liquid created a medium rim which shed a curtain of wavy tears.


Nose: The fragrance was malt-heavy with cooked peaches, apples, and apricots. Then came toasted bread and lime zest. When I drew the air through my lips, my mouth filled with a limestone taste.


Palate: I found the semi-creamy texture inviting. A burst of citrus fruits, including lime, lemon, orange, and grapefruit, raced across my tongue and down my throat. The second sip allowed me to dissect what was happening on my palate. The front was all citrus. The middle included vanilla, peaches, and peanuts. The back had candied ginger, oak tannins, and chocolate.


Finish: Medium in duration, the finish highlighted candied ginger, chocolate, lime zest, peaches, and cream. The cream stuck to my hard palate like glue.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Nc’nean Organic Single Malt Scotch is an unusual pour. The nosing experience was captivating. That citrus tsunami on the palate threw me off; I’m scouring my memory and can’t recall another whisky that’s done something similar. The sweet and spicy notes melded well. Would I have preferred a longer finish? Sure, but it wasn’t as if it was rushed. Overall, I enjoyed this Highland Scotch, and it is worth picking up a Bottle if you see it. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.