This is the week of reviews of things that are not single malt Scotch whisky, I started off on Monday with a whisky that is almost single malt Scotch Whisky: Old Perth 21, 1996, a blended malt, i.e a blend of two malt whiskies. Today we leave Scotland completely but don’t go very far. Just across the water to Ireland.
Knappogue Castle is not a distillery, it is a brand. There actually is a castle called Knappogue Castle and it is in fact owned by the people who release Knappogue Castle whiskey but there is no distillation happening there—though you wouldn’t know this if you read the “Process” page on their website. Instead, the company purchases pot still whiskies from other distilleries and releases them under their label. I’m not sure if their whiskey is even sold in Ireland. The “Store Finder” map on their website shows only retailers and bars in the US. Perhaps someone who knows more about the brand—possibly even the source of my sample, the Marvelous Mr. Michael (see his review here)—can fill in the particulars. All I can tell you for sure is what I think of it. Ah yes, this was specially bottled for The Party Source in Kentucky, hence the 6 extra points of abv over the regular 40% 12 yo.
Knappogue Castle 12 (46%; bottled for The Party Source; first-fill bourbon; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Fruity, bubble-gummy nose with just a faint chemical/plastic note, and a bit of cut grass. Alas, that chemical note begins to expand as it sits. On the plus side, it brings some musky malt with it. After a few minutes in the glass the chemical thing recedes a bit and there’s a more simple sweetness (though the grass gives it a slightly astringent counterpoint). With more time still citrus (orange) is to the fore and there’s a bit of vanilla-cream too. A few drops of water get rid of the astringent note and emphasize the citrus (lime peel now) and vanilla-cream (lime curd, I guess).
Palate: The grassy thing is to the fore on the palate but then there’s a big fruity expansion behind it, getting quite musky as I swallow, with a bitter edge. The texture is nice at 46%. On the second sip the citrus is to the fore—a mix of lemon and orange liqueur. As it sits the fruit gets muskier still (pineapple, melon) but that bitter edge doesn’t go away (melon rind). Not too much change here with water though the bitter note does back off a bit.
Finish: Medium-long. The fruit builds, gets almost tropical (but more like bubblegum/candy than actual fruit). That grassy astringency comes back at the end. As on the palate with water.
Comments: The nose had me feeling a bit iffy with the plastic/grassy notes but the palate delivered with the fruit, and time and water fixed the nose. On the whole, thought it’s lacking depth/intensity. Easy to see though how this would get even better with age, or even in a refill cask. By the way, add some milky cocoa notes and a touch of gasoline and this would not be a million miles from Ben Nevis.
Rating: 86 points.
Thanks to Michael K. for the sample. (See his review here.)
founded in Ireland
Moved to the US as Castle Brands Inc. and operated with brands of their own and as distributor.
The Knappogue whiskies were sourced from differnt Irish distilleries.
The Jefferson whiskies most probably as well.
In October 2019 the company was sold to French group Pernod Ricard for a hefty sum.