Thanks to /u/toadpooh for this sample.
In the year 1966, a very rich American gentleman by the name of Mark E. Andrews bought a decrepit 15th century castle named Knappogue Castle.
Normally that’s the beginning of some sort of “Cultural Appropriation is Bad” film, and in the end, the valiant people of the area will rise up against him.
However Andrews was not just another rich fool. He had worked hard in the Navy, making his way up to Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
He isn’t a saint, and I won’t make him a hero. However for this whiskey, it’s interesting to know what he did in Ireland.
So, like I said: He buys ruins of a 15th century castle and his wife restores it. At the same time, he starts buying casks of fine pot still whiskey from around Ireland. Then he ages them further and bottles them under the Knappogue Castle label. And kept it privately. He mostly bought casks of the mothballed distillery B. Daly Distillery.
So Knappogue Castle is not made by Knappogue. Currently they source from Bushmills, and are one of the few Irish only Independent Bottlers.
Of the three standard main bottles they now bring out, Knappogue Castle 16 is the oldest (barring the Knappogue Castle 1951, which is a special release).
This version is aged for a minimum of 14 years in ex-Bourbon barrels, and then finish in Oloroso sherry casks to have a total minimum age of 16 years.
Sounds tasty. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: $145.95 (CAD) at the LCBO
Colour: 7.5YR 7/10
Nose: Mango, pizza dough, white chocolate, sugar syrup, custard
Fruity at first. That sorta dull, citrus like but tangy side to it. Like me on Tuesday nights (Hello Nurse!)
The yeast elements I usually find in Irish whiskey is here, but just above being noticeable. Quite sweet on the nose. More rounded sweetness.
Taste: Orange, grapefruit, caramel, basil, cashew
Fruity, somewhat herbal, and a little bit nutty. More tanginess here. More like me on Wednesday (HELLO NICE LADY!)
Not a lot of sherry influence for me. There’s some fruit, but I guess because it’s Oloroso I shouldn’t expect the brashness of a PX sherry cask.
Finish: Cotton candy, peach syrup, cherry wood, cloves, pecan
Wow, there’s the sherry influence. So much so it’s hard to make a 90s era cartoon reference again, thus throwing off the jokes I’ve been doing.
HOW DO I COMMUNICATE IF NOT THROUGH NOSTALGIA!
There’s a strong amount of sweetness on the finish. May be a little too strong for others. I like it, because it meshes with other flavours. It’s big sweets, little sweets, and wood sweets.
Conclusion: If not for the meshing at the end, I’d say this was an easy pass. That said, the price may make you decide otherwise.
Ignoring the price for the time being, this has a nice Irish whiskey nose, a forgetable taste, and a cool, if quite sweet finish. I enjoyed it, though I feel like it’s missing some elements through decisions made about the malt.
I look forward to hunting down old version of Knappogue Castle. I believe that the company is doing some interesting stuff. And I hope they bring out a cask strength version in the future, to really show off what they are doing.
World Whiskey review #167, Ireland review #30, Whiskey Network review #810