Better late than never I say with my final Irish whiskey review of the St. Paddy's season! Knappogue Castle Twin Wood 16 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey (KC16) is more-or-less a 2 years older version of the KC14 that I wrote about last week. It's a triple-distilled all-malted-barley Irish whiskey that was aged first in ex-bourbon barrels and then finished in Oloroso Sherry wood. It's a limited production product, and just as hard to find as the KC14, but at scarcity-induced prices of $75 to $100 depending on where you get it can it possibly be worth the premium over the $46 Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old that was just devine? Also, not to be a grump, but when a bottle gets over about $50 I start to lose interest if it's bottled at a standard 80 proof. Not that there's anything wrong with 80 proof if that's where a given whiskey shows off its best flavors, but I usually think going with 80 proof is more a sign of laziness or of going with whatever is available rather than a conscious choice driven by the character of the liquid. When I'm paying big bucks I want to know that I'm paying for a fully thought-out whiskey.
Color: KC16 is a nice, full, caramel brown color with rather thick, sticky legs. You can certainly see the two years of extra age compared to the KC14, and the slightly lower proof may account for the thicker look.
Nose: Initially the nose is very earthy and malty with just a hint of ethanol that I didn't detect in the other two Knappogue Castle whiskeys I sampled. I gradually picked up dried apricots, ripe dark fruits, and oaky vanilla notes. The vapory ethanol aroma was really somewhere between ethanol and citrus zest, and it disappeared after sitting out for a bit anyway. After adding a splash of water the nose didn't change much, just got fainter.
Flavor: This KC16 is certainly the "oakiest" of the Knappogue Castle range, with rich bourbon-barrel flavors of vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon. There are also some light grain flavors like wheat-y bread, and bit of orange zest after a few sips. Adding water makes the flavor a bit sweeter and fruitier and brings out the white grape juice flavor that I found so unique in the younger Knappogue Castle whiskeys.
Finish: The finish is clean and relatively short with no burn and not much lingering flavor. Just a bit of that citrus flavor that kicks around for a bit.
Overall this KC16 is a top notch Irish Whiskey that stands apart from the crowd in all the right ways. The only downside is that the KC12 and KC14 whiskeys do the same thing at much lower price points, so finding the value in this one is a bit trickier. If you happen across it and feel like splurging though, you won't be disappointed.