GUEST TASTING NOTES: Knappogue Castle 21 years old 46% ABV.

knappogue 21yr old

The following notes have kindly been uploaded by Greg Szczepkowski, @bogstandarddram. You can follow Greg on Twitter, using the button at the bottom of this post.

Type of whisk(e)y – Irish whiskey.

How long has the whisk[e]y bottle been open? – Newly opened.

Introduction to the whisk[e]y (casks used, distillery, is it a special release etc) – Triple distilled single malt sourced for Castle Brands Spirits Group, the owner of “Knappogue Castle” label. This is a limited edition (approx 1200 bottles) but quick online search shows that there are few different bottlings available. The bottle reviewed here consists of two batches, 5 cask each:
Bonded 09/1996: 73441, 73442, 73447,73181 and 73353, 1st fill ex-bourbon
Bonded 10/1996: 73354, 73355, 73356, 73357 and 73358, 1st fill ex-bourbon
There is no bottling date provided but it had to be some time around 2017-18 mark to allow for the right age statement to be used.
Interestingly, the back label displays US state recycling redemption values in cents, which would indicate American market, however the size of the bottle is an European standard of 700ml.
The whiskey is non-chill filtered, and I believe the colour is natural, however there’s no specific information regarding colouring.

Appearance – Clear, medium intensity, gold. Medium viscosity.

Nose – Nose is of medium intensity.
The nose opens with a pleasant rancio note of a warm fruit pastry, straight from the oven. Orchard fruits with pears up front. Red apples dusted with brown sugar and a hint of cinnamon. Very fresh fruit jellies followed by floral note and freshly cut ripe yellow melon. Hint of wood polish with a touch of candied orange zest, blackcurrant. Banana in the back, some candied cherry note too. All of that on top of the dominant note of the warm fruit pastry that never really goes away. The nose is subtle, complex but not delicate. Fruity.

Palate – Smooth, mouthfilling and light.
Palate starts off with a subtle wood spice note of a nutmeg, followed quickly by pastry and oak, very fresh oak sap note. Cocoa dust, toast/char, cloves, bitter almonds, fresh chilli, light honey, desiccant coconut, hint of coffee. Drying.

Finish – Long and very complex.
No burn, lingering note of fresh oak with touch of freshly muddled mint leaf. Very refreshing.

Overall thoughts – I will start this section differently. You were probably a bit disappointed with my palate section being so uncharacteristically short. Rest assured, this is a wood forward whiskey. As a result you get rather boring description of a typical notes of ex-bourbon cask, that are common in this sort of maturation style.
But there’s a catch. All of the palate notes above work in harmony with each other. They go and then come back. They almost vanish to the return again. To me this is an example of a complex simplicity. If you familiar with Arvo Part compositions, this is exactly like that, just a few simple notes that can create something amazing together.
In the light of the above, the nose seems to be deceiving with its pastry/fruity combo leading you to believe you’re about to taste something sweet. But it’s not. It works well with a drying palate. It works because there is nothing rushed about this whiskey, the nose develops then you take a sip and all pieces fall into place.
The finish is amazingly long, oscillating between oak and mint, on constant repeat.
The quality of this whiskey is outstanding, no off notes, nothing really dominates here. It’s a classic ex-bourbon maturation but elevated by a careful choice of casks.
And the distillate? Pears and wood quality allow me to believe it could only come from the best triple distilled single malt source on this planet – Bushmills distillery.

I would happily buy it again, just give me 190-200 euro to do it…


Many thanks to Greg, @bogstandarddram (Twitter) for submitting his tasting notes.

Image creditCeltic whiskey shop.

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