Knappogue Castle is following up its 17-year-old release of last year with the 14 Year Old Twin Wood Irish whiskey, a malt that shares part of the name (Twin Wood) with its predecessor, while not exactly the same process.
Last year's release got its name from a two-year finish in Olorosso Sherry wood after having rested in Bourbon barrels for 15 years. The new Knappogue Castle is the result of the marriage of two 14-year-old types, one in Bourbon barrels and the other in Sherry casks. While last year's limited release was slightly chill-filtered, this edition has no filtering at all. (Chill-filtering is a process by which whiskey is refrigerated to isolate certain fatty compounds, which are then strained out. It is a cosmetic process to prevent clouding during shipping. The jury is out on whether it changes flavor.)
St. Patrick's Day celebrants should cheer this arrival in time for the appointed day as the buy-in price is much more accessible ($59.99) than the $100 previous release. It also packs more of a wallop, bottled at 92 proof compared to other typical Knappogue releases at 80 proof.
Knappogue Castle (pronounced nah-POGUE) is small Irish whiskey-maker named for a 15th century castle in County Clare, restored in the 1960s by the founder Mark Edwin Andrews III. He also amassed a storehouse of old whiskeys, which was eventually released, and the company became known for its series of vintage-labeled releases. Most notable is the hyperpremium 1951, which, bottled at 36 years, sells for more a $1,000.
Knappogue Castle Twin Wood 14-Year-Old Single Malt (92 proof, or 46 percent alcohol by volume, $59.99 for a 750-ml bottle)
APPEARANCE: Light, lemon color. Delicate, teardrop legs are slow to make their way down the glass.
NOSE: Caramel, vanilla and nuts make their way to the nose before the far typical Irish notes of flowers honey. Also displays plenty of meaty fruit with apples and pears.
PALATE: Comes out very Irish on the palate, but with a full body you might not expect. It's like a very rich hard candy with a nougat, chocolate, toffee center. Fruits of the Sherry wood live in excellent harmony here with vanilla and caramel notes of the Bourbon barrels. Not as floral as might expect from the nose.
FINISH: Finishes long with the more full-bodied, savory flavors of the palate and ends with a snap of spice.
CIGAR PAIRING: Don Pepin Garcia (6 inches by 56 ring gauge, $7.62, unrated). The full-bodied cigar shows lots of rich wood and some fruit in the form of cherry and slight orange peel. The whiskey sweetens the woody notes and draws more fruit and citrus from the cigar. The Knappogue gets even bigger and rounder in the transaction. A very friendly pairing.