Oh Taste & See: Knappogue Castle 14 Year Old Twin Wood Single Malt Irish Whiskey

And the names just keep getting longer! The next Irish Whiskey up in my St. Patrick's Day run-up has a name almost as long as the 14 years it has spent in barrels. Knappogue Castle 14 Year Old Twin Wood Single Malt Irish Whiskey (KC14) is an older, sherry-finished whiskey from the same folks who brought us the Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey (KC12). It has some of the same delicate, fruity notes that I loved so much in the KC12, but is a bit woodier and has some heavier, darker fruit flavors owing to the use of oloroso sherry barrels in addition to ex-bourbon barrels. At 92 proof and non-chill-filtered, the KC14 is also a bit stronger and more 'untamed'.

Color:  KC14 is a clean golden wheat color. It's remarkably sharp and bright looking with medium legs when you give it a swirl.

Nose: At first the nose is a bit scarce with light honey, oak, and citrus notes just peaking through. Given a few minutes aromas of malt, wet grain, and buttered corn start to come out. After a few sips the nose continues to move from light and fruity to an earthier vibe, and after adding a splash of water it gets downright musty - like entering a wood-paneled room that has been closed off for a while. If you haven't experienced a whiskey that changes in the glass with time and water this is a good showcase for that.


Flavor: The mouth-feel of KC14 is rich and chewy with bold sherry flavors in the mid-palate. To me that chewy, full-flavored texture supports an argument that Knappogue Castle should not chill-filter its other whiskeys - this non-chill filtered example doesn't have any harshness or cloudiness that you'd want to filter out, and keeping that mouth-feel is a big plus. Flavor-wise, there are ripe raspberries, sweet rosé wine, and a kick of minty, menthol flavor. Adding water adds to the sweetness and brings out more fruity pear-like flavors. The 92 proof is totally in-check with no alcohol burn or harshness.

Finish: The finish for KC14 is sweet, long, and gradually reveals dark fruit and fig notes. It's very smooth with no burn, and after time takes on a wine-like character, again most like a sweet rosé. With water the finish gets sweeter with caramel and white grape juice flavors. After several sips I started to pick up some nuttiness in the finish too - like dry almonds.

Overall, this is another example of an Irish whiskey that's a bit outside the box and moves the category in some very nice directions. For my money I would probably prefer the Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old that I reviewed a few days ago at $46 per bottle versus this KC14 at $60 per bottle, but if you can just get both then maybe you shouldn't choose at all. The 14 Year Old is very limited after all with only 2,000 bottles of this batch released, so if you see it grab it!


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