Saturday, March 1, 2014

Go Irish! Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey

This second blog post is a follow on to the review I did for Contarf.  Castle brands has a number of expressions and the three I'll focus on for this post is Knappogue 12 year, 14 year Twin Wood sherry finish and 16 year Twin Wood sherry finish, all single malts. 

Irish whiskey dates back quite a few centuries and in the 16th century Queen Elizabeth I was quite the fan of uisce beatha or "water of life". Peter the Great declared that of all the wines in Europe, Irish whiskey was the best. At a point in the 19th century, Irish whiskey took off on a global basis and
while competing with blended Scotch was considered the most popular.  In 1880 Irish whiskey was the most popular spirit in the world due in part to a devastating crop infection that almost wiped out the Cognac industry.

By the 20th century, Irish whiskey took a number of body blows that significantly interrupted growth and nearly killed it off.  The Irish War of Independence, English closing its market to the Irish, American prohibition which was particularly harmful as low grade bootleg whiskey was passed off as Irish whiskey and then World War 2 were just a few noteworthy events.  In 1880 there were approximately 160 distilleries in Ireland but by the end of WWII, only seven remained clinging to life.

At one point there were only three distilleries in operation in Ireland but since the late 20th century, Irish whiskey began gaining in popularity again.  Today there are seven distilleries with another nineteen either under application or in the process of build out.

Ok, enough history.  Let's talk whiskey.

Knappogue Castle 12 year - this expression is one I've enjoyed over a couple of years.  I mentioned that Castle's Contarf could be distilled by Jameson but the reality is, it could be Bushmills as well since they triple distill.  No matter who distilled the whiskey, this expression is a light, smooth and somewhat creamy whiskey.  On the nose I pick up vanilla and mild oak and some citrus notes.  The entry is smooth, sweet and clean with moderate fruit and a honeyed quality to the finish which is medium in length.  I would consider this an nice entry level Irish whiskey which is no way detracts from its pleasant flavor.

Knappogue Castle 14 year Twin Wood- On the nose is toasted nut, sherry and summer fruit.  The entry has a bit more kick than the 12 year as it's bottled at 92 proof rather than 80.  On the palate I get a touch of bitterness like bitter chocolate, caramel, nut and some dark fruits from the Oloroso sherry cask.  The finish is moderately long with the sherry notes hanging on the palate to the end.  A very nice expression and one I'm glad to have in the bunker.

Knappogue Castle 16 year Twin Wood - The nose oak forward, dark fruits and vanilla.  Entry is slightly dry, dark fruits, caramel, oak with a buttery mouthfeel.  About mid palate I pick up a slight pepper and floral profile.  This whiskey has nice transitions, is full bodied and the 80 proof is tricky as the whiskey doesn't drink low proof.  This is a classy whiskey and now I'm on the hunt for a bottle of my own.

March 17th is St. Patricks day so maybe the Contarf or any of the Knappogue expressions above would be appropriate for celebration. 

1 comment:

  1. I love the 12 year. Got ten cases in stock aging