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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Knappogue Castle 12 year old Irish Single Malt, Single Barrel for The Party Source

I used to say that Knappogue Castle (KC) was the only Cooley single malt that I consistently enjoyed. And then I discovered that Knappogue Castle is often sourced from Bushmills. Like today's whisky.

Knappogue Castle has been producing exclusive single barrels for US retailers over the past couple of years. They're 12 years old, 46%abv, non-chillfiltered, and about $35-$40/bottle. That's a combo one doesn't see much anymore. I bought this bottle at The Party Source last year, then I went back a picked up another this year, which tells you what I think of the stuff. TPS had them on sale for $33.99 both times. They're sold out now, but I hope this inspires another single barrel to roll through TPS's door sometime soon.

It performed just as well on the rocks as it did as a hot whiskey. In both forms, its fruity elements came to the fore. Time to type up some actual tasting notes of the whiskey at room temperature.

Brand: Knappogue County
Distillery: Old Bushmills Distillery
Location: County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Type: Single Malt
Distillations: Three
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: first-fill bourbon barrel
Bottle: 77 of 216
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant added? Maybe

The nose leads with anise and grass. Then the clementines come rolling in. Lime juice, vanilla extract, lemongrass and a touch o' malt. In the palate I find peach ice cream, lemons and tart limes. Toasted sunflower seeds and zippy jalapeños. The long finish balances peaches, lemons and limes with tomatillo-like pepper sauce.

DILUTED TO 40%abv, or <1 tsp water per 30mL whiskey
More grain and vanilla in the nose. Lemons and nectarines. A late note of paprika! The palate picks up some fudge and ginger notes. The pepper note is subtler. Tart lemons and yellow nectarines. The finish is noticeably shorter, but it holds onto the ginger and nectarines, which makes for a pleasant combo.

Whew, after two disappointing Lowland single malt scotches in a row, it's nice to review a good drinker from right across the North Channel. This is an example of a first-fill bourbon barrel single malt that isn't all vanilla, caramel and lumber. See, it can be done!

The fruit element makes this a pleasure in warmer months. And colder months. As I mentioned above, it's a drinker not a thinker. Midleton's single pot still whiskies are more complex. But this single barrel is a very friendly thing, and carries a high quality-to-price ratio.

Availability - was exclusive to The Party Source, sold out now
Pricing - ranged from $34-$40 at TPS, other retailers' editions have similar pricing
Rating - 86

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