Prospects for those of us who prefer whiskey over green beer for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day are getting better. Knappogue Castle will ante up with another ultrapremium Irish whiskey, the 17-year-old, single-malt Twin Wood, which is about to ship to retail stores.
Following up on its 16-year version of last year, Knappogue has fashioned a whiskey aged in Bourbon barrels for 15 years, plus a follow-up dip in Oloroso Sherry casks for another 21 months, making a total of 17 years.
Like most Irish whiskey it is triple-distilled, but it is not artificially colored. It also partakes of only a slight chill-filtering. (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.)
Knappogue Castle (pronounced nah-POGUE) is small Irish whiskey-maker (this release will include only 4,500 bottles) named for a 15th century castle in County Clare. It is particularly known for its series of vintage-labeled whiskies from 1990 through 1995. It also makes a hyperpremium 1951 vintage whiskey.
Knappogue Castle Twin Wood 17-Year-Old Single Malt (80 proof or 40 percent alcohol by volume, $100 for a 750-ml bottle)
APPEARANCE: Rich lemon to honey hue with slight copper. As no coloring is used, this characteristic may be more revealing than with most Irish whiskies. Sturdy legs come down quickly on the glass.
NOSE: Plenty of honey and flowers right off, but also shows a strong caramel to vanilla, perhaps butter rum, base. A flittering hint of hard candy can also be detected.
PALATE: The Sherry aging announces itself quite quickly on the palate, not only with fruits, but a deep, oily malt characteristic. Next, an array of deep candied flavors come on: toffee, cocoa, honey and nougat. The time in Bourbon barrels is by no means diminished either as vanilla and caramel notes also make their presence known. Some spice and Stilton is noted as well. On top of that there is a floral characteristic that doesn’t let you forget that after all this is Irish whiskey.
FINISH: The finish is very pleasant with fruit, malt and perhaps some graham cracker, but not terribly long.
To learn how to pair Irish whiskey with cigars, check out this video.