Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Knappogue Castle 1994 Irish Single Malt Whiskey - what a find!

So tonight, I made history, at least in the respect that I did something I will not soon forget. I stopped by one of my local purveyors of fine spirits, the one closest to my home and with the best selection around me, to buy a bottle of single malt Scotch. Now I am not a big whiskey drinker, and only started to drink scotch a year or two ago, but I came to like it a bit - now and then. I have had a few of the finer ones, and I have enjoyed them very much.

While at the store tonight, something different caught my eye, and maybe it did because I am at least in part of Irish descent. I spied a bottle of pale colored whiskey, in a boxed set along with a small ceramic ewer. I was not immediately impressed, but as I looked it over, I noted it was a single malt. Hmm, maybe it was for me, then again maybe not since I had come in to buy a bottle of Scotch. I grabbed hold of one, and walked down the aisle a bit to peruse the fine Scotches on hand. They had bottles of single malt ranging in price from $20.99 (no notation as to age) to $169.99 for an 18 year old Macallan. I had about a total of $65.00 in my pocket, and that included my lunch money for lunches at work over the next three days. The Knappogue Castle Irish Single Malt Whiskey was only $32.99. Now I know you often get what you pay for, but sometimes whiskey can be a pleasant surprise. Then I remembered something about Irish single malts, they were somehow made differently than Scotch whiskey. I decided to go with the Irish.

As I opened the bottle, I noted that it has a 1994 distilled date. Thirteen years old right now. Okay, this stuff was bottled sometime between 2004 and 2006, from what I can gather, so it would have been 10 or 12 years old when bottled. I also noted that it is pale in color, much paler than any whiskey I have ever seen before. I opened it and found the aroma to be light, springtime fresh, a bit fruity, and of course with the overall aroma of fine whiskey. Well I just sat down with a nice one over the rocks, and I took a sip, then two, then three. I like it a lot. In fact it is truly the mellowest 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume) whiskey that I have ever imbibed. It goes onto the tongue like silk - it is that smooth; and it goes down the pipes the same way. No harsh aftertaste, no harsh kick. It tastes like fine whiskey with no taste of peat... Hey wait a minute, that's it. No taste of peat, and as I drank I read about Knappogue Castle Irish Single Malt Whiskey on their web site, and they noted that the difference between their single malt and Scotch single malts is that they do not dry the malt using peat! What a heavenly difference in flavor this makes, or at least that is my guess as to why this whiskey is ever so smooth.

Now note, if you decide to run out and buy a bottle, then discover it tastes very different than what I have written here, bear in mind that they already have a new vintage out, the new one distilled in 1995. According to their web site, the 1995 distilled vintage has much more of a "bourbon barrel wood quality" to it. I may try the 1995 someday too. For now though, I kind of think that the 1994 distilled vintage is about the best, and certainly the smoothest, darned sipping whiskey I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying; and that is one heck of nice surprise at only $32.99 a bottle. I may just have to get another of the 1994 distilled vintage, and put it away for a cloudy, damp and cool day.

All the best,
Glenn B


Chris Byrne said...

Irish whiskeys are also triple distilled; which makes for a lighter, clearner, and drier whiskey.

The flavors in Irish whiskey come primarily from the aging process. Typically, fine Irish whiskeys are aged in port wine, or sherry barrels from Spain or Portugal.

Anonymous said...

... ahhh, yes... but there is a BIG difference between Irish and Scotch.... still, I am glad that you found one that you enjoy....


Glenn Bartley said...

I enjoy them all, it's just I enjoy this one somewhat better.

All the best,

Geoffrey said...

The best scotch on the market right now is Ardbeg, any year.