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Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Whiskey

Review: Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey  (90.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted March 18, 2016

Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey is produced by Castle Brands who are an international owner of premium spirits brands which are sold primarily in North America, Europe, and Asia. The Irish whiskey brand pays homage to the historic Knappogue Castle in County Clare, Ireland which was originally built by Clan MacNamara in 1467.

The Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey is a triple distilled Irish Whiskey (most probably produced at the Middleton Distillery) made from unpeated barley one batch at a time in copper pot stills. The spirit is aged in ex-bourbon barrels for at least 12 years.

Knappague12 YrIn the Bottle 4.5/5

The Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey has recently underwent a package redesign. I have shown the new bottle and tube to the left. The older bottle (which is the one I have reviewed and scored in this review) is shown down below in my Suggested Recipe section.

I like both the old and the new packaging design, although I think it is fair to say that the newer packaging has a crisp professional look which appeals more strongly to me. The use of gold trim upon both the bottle and the protective canister gives the presentation strong eye-appeal. As well, the older label seems a little plain by comparison.

In the Glass 9/10

When poured into my glass, the Irish Whiskey shows me a pale straw colour. The immediate nose is appealing with scents of budding willow trees alongside sandalwood and grain spice. There is also a beguiling honey-like, malty sweetness. The spirit seems very mellow and approachable, and this suits my current mood as the winter snow is melting in the backyard and the warm sunshine of springtime is heading my way.

I gave the glass some time to breathe, Then I closed my eyes and examined the breezes above the glass once again. I was rewarded with an impression of ripening barley fields mingled with nearby grassy meadows. There is strong evidence in those breezes that a stand of poplar tress may be nearby. As the aroma evolved I sensed additional impressions of honey sweetened granola cereal, bits of graham wafer dipped in maple syrup, and an almond-like scent which is moving towards marzipan.

All in all, this is quite lovely!

In the Mouth 54.5/60

Sipping on the Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old is very pleasant. The whisky is mellow and approachable, yet there is a multitude of nuances to enjoy. First is the cereal grain and malt flavours with welcome hints of honey and lightly sweet maple. There are also firm wood spices and a gentle hay-like grassiness which winds through the malty sweetness and cereal grain. Within this light grassiness is a mild herbal component reminiscent of willow bark and menthol (perhaps heather is a better description). Underpinning the flavour is a light but firm almond-like flavour which over time melds with the malty sweetness giving rise to a flavour impression akin to marzipan.

I added a little ice and the whisky became slightly creamy and I noticed a few fruit-like flavours (canned apricots and peaches) as well as a touch of citrus peel and a sweep of gentle vanilla. The flavour impressions agree with me as does the whiskey’s approachability. This Irish dram is nuanced and very enjoyable.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The exit is crisp and relatively smooth with fading flavours of almond and vanilla with just a touch of briny saltiness. Wood and grain spices linger and a lovely light bitterness of orange pith creeps in demanding that you take another sip.

The Afterburn 9/10

Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey is a wonderful Irish whiskey. The spirit is very approachable making it easy to sip, yet it also demonstrates strong complexity with many nuances of flavour to explore. I say well done, and I definitely want to explore more of the Knappogue Castle range to see what the older expressions may bring.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

Irish Blessing SAM_2480My first suggestion is that the Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey be sipped on it own or with a few cubes of ice. However, I also feel that the easy approachability of the whiskey lends itself to smashing cocktails.

Irish Blessing

2 oz  Knappogue Castle 12 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/3 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao
1/4 oz Sugar Syrup
3 Mint Leaves
Mint Sprig for  Garnish

Muddle the first five ingredients in a mixing glass
Strain into a rocks glass
Add ice-cubes

Garnish with a mint sprig in the glass

Enjoy this cocktail with the following Irish Blessing:

“May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live!”

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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