While the trend in cask finishes is not as prominent in Irish whiskies as they are in Scotches, you can still find them. Knaggogue Castle put out a limited release, distilled in 1994 and bottled in 2011, featuring a spirit finished in sherry casks. Though the offering is somewhat limited (our bottle proclaims it as number 104 out of 4500), it doesn’t carry the rarity or price of the truly limited releases from the distillery and finding a bottle isn’t terribly difficult. So far, at least!
Distillery: Knappogue Castle
Age: 17 years
Maturation: Sherry casks
Nose: Grain, malt, oak, sweet grass
Palate: Apple, malt, tannin, toasted oak, grapefruit, wine, butter, almond
Finish: Flower, perfume, antiseptic
Comments: Water can accentuate the flavors but, at 40% abv, drop carefully.
Adam – I’m reminded of a wet spring, when the after-thaw is still recent and the sodden, peaty gods of the earth are stirring. There’s an echo of floral but it is more a reminder of what’s to flower in the 12 year expression. The apple profile is still strong here, along with some light fruits. I like the sense of perfume in the finish, and it’s shame it turns a little bitter right at the end. This is a smooth dram with a lot going on, yet I wish it held more than promises.
Kate – This is one of those whiskies that doesn’t have so much a finish as an aftertaste. There’s a distinct potpourri character to it.
Meghan – It’s a bit more sherried than I normally like. It’s almost too smooth. Soggy isn’t the right word. Maybe mossy? Damp decaying vegetation, but not peaty. What you drink when you’re not sure if you want to drink a glass of sherry or a glass of whisky.
Henry – A more subdued and mature Knappogue. I miss the 12 year’s fresh, fun citrus nose, replaced here by green apple and a hint of light florals. A wee hint of wet peat on the palate is the only earth tone here. Peat reluctantly gives way to a lasting grainy, malt finish, the weakest part of the experience. Water enhances the apple notes and diminishes the peat, while making the grain linger even longer.
Jenny – It smells better than it tastes to me. I don’t get a lot of earth tones. There’s not a lot to it. I am getting a nice warmth down the chest, which I always enjoy. There’s just not a lot going on in my mouth and a hint of spice there at the end.
Michael – I remember the 12 being well balanced; this seems to be a little less well balanced. It feels like the lawless older brother of the 12, in that it doesn’t conform to my expectations of what an older Irish whiskey would be like. It’s fruity and floral with just a hint of spice on the finish.
Mary-Fred – It was light.
Peter – There’s a darkness at the beginning and then very suddenly there’s a burn from the alcohol, but also a sparkle. Then it floats away like a firework. Then it trickles down. A little fireworks and then it fizzles. Sometimes Scotch blends together but there are definitely stages with this one, with the fireworks at the end.