If you missed my review of the Knappogue 21 some time back you may want to have a read of that first as it gives a brief history of the Knappogue range and how it came into being. Have a quick read of it here. Today though, we are looking at one of their latest releases. A travel retail exclusive to “The Irish Whiskey Collection” in The Loop and with just 2,100 bottles available, this 12 year old Single Malt is finished in Chateau Pichon Baron French Oak Casks (Note the bottle photo below says 1,100 but it’s actually 2,100). Chateau Pichon Baron has a history dating back decades with it being listed as a Second Grand Cru Classé in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Their wines are described as powerful, virile, structured and long-lived.
If you haven’t guessed already, Knappogue Castle do not have a distillery and in fairness to them and their parent company, Castle Brands, they have never attempted to mislead anyone into thinking otherwise. Since their first bonding they have used sourced whiskey, first from the original Tullamore distillery and more recently, from Bushmills. Both the 21 year old and this are distinctly high class Bushmills in character and in particular, the finish. This is a good thing in case you think otherwise! With this French Oak Cask release they have dived into cask finishes with two more also on the market. A Marsala Cask and a Burgundy Cask exclusive to Celtic Whiskey Shop. And lets be honest…..who doesn’t like a good wine finish to a whiskey!! So lets have a look at the Knappogue Castle 12 Year old French Oak Cask. Bottled at 46% it retails for approximately €90. Here is my tasting notes.
Nose – First thing to strike me is sweet sugared almond that you get on holiday. Proper holidays, in Spain. Not in Ballybunion or Tramore, people! Its sweet and nutty all at once. Slight clove spice to it.
Palate – A right complex malt. This is very much a high end Bushmills, no doubt some excellent spirit and excellent casks selected. Almost chewable. Fruity and sweet. Red grapes, red apples, strawberries with a touch of manuka honey.
Finish – Medium to long with a light lingering spice that finishes with a slightly dry malt and oaky note. A little blackberry right at the end too just to keep things interesting!
Overall – At the time of writing I have had this two weeks and the bottle is half gone already! I’m really enjoying it and yet again I’m going to sound like a broken record. I can’t understand why Bushmills ain’t throwing out liquid like this themselves. That’s no knock against Knappogue, they’ve done a GREAT job with this and I commend them. So much so that I’ve already picked up another bottle from the ever helpful Linda in The Loop in Cork Airport! And while I’m on a wee rant……The Loop need to recognise that there are airports outside of Dublin. I couldn’t get this initially in Cork, it was only available in Dublin which seems to be a growing trend. Share the love guys….spread it around and make it available in all airports to ensure coverage of these fine whiskeys across the country! Hat tip to Linda for getting it in from Dublin before I hit Cork airport last week!!
So is it recommended? Absolutely. A cracking whiskey that may see me buying another bottle or two to keep for future opening!
This sample was provided free of charge to the author. No monetary reward was received for the review. The review, as with all our reviews, was written subjectively and not influenced in anyway.