Knappogue Castle has an interesting and varied history. Originally built in 1467 by the Clan MacNamara, it was their home for almost 300 years until the Cromwellian government of England seized it and gave it to one of their loyal Roundheads. Upon the restoration of the English Royal crown five years later, the MacNamaras once again held it as their own until finally selling it to the Scott Family in 1800. About 120 years later during the Irish War of Independence, the castle served as the headquarters for the County Clare rebels. After the war, it was sold to a local farmer purely for pastureland. The building sat uninhabited for 45 years, until an American Scotch collector by the name of Mark Edwin Andrews bought it in 1966. He along with his wife restored it to its beautiful condition today. It is his whiskies that bear the name of this venerable castle, and they can be sipped while you visit the grounds.
Traditionally, Knappogue whiskies are vintage labeled as are many fine wines, but recently Mr. Andrews’ son has introduced 12, 14 and 16 year olds to the thirsty public.
Knappogue Castle 12 (80 proof)
Visual: Very pale gold.
Nose: Woody, with an autumnal and comfortable sense of antiquity.
Taste: Smooth, light and to the point. A very traditional Scotch that knows what it’s aiming for. Caramel, vanilla and just a hint of smokiness.
Finish: Warming, friendly and like stepping back in time with each sip.
Overall: This is the kind of Scotch I imagine James “All Creatures Great & Small” Herriot enjoying a snifter of after a day traversing the Yorkshire Dales.
GSN Rating: A-
Knappogue Castle 14 (92 proof)
Visual: Light yellow-gold.
Nose: Quite a bit of woody edginess. Still the inherent malty sweetness is the baseline here.
Taste: Sweet vanilla with more than a touch of oak. The two flavors work in tandem to create an interesting see-saw effect on the palate. This is a more assertive whiskey that has a balanced finesse.
Finish: Masculine and self-assured. You know you’ve just had a whiskey that has reached the age of consent.
Overall: This is surprisingly in line with some single pot still Irish whiskies I’ve had. Very nice indeed.
GSN Rating: A
Knappogue Castle 16 (80 proof)
Visual: Golden yellow.
Nose: Rich deep caramel with fruity raspberry notes.
Taste: Refined, light and dry with more tannin than sweetness. An almost gamey quality of roasted fowl. Quite interestingly, elements of Thanksgiving spices come through towards the end.
Finish: Intensely spice driven and chewy. A lot of ginger-like notes along with faint rosemary and sage creep in here and there.
Overall: Very unusual and surprising. I felt like I had enjoyed a savory meal.
GSN Rating: A-
For more information go to: Knappogue Castle