In 1966, Mark Edwin Andrews purchased Knappogue Castle, a 15th century castle in Ireland, which was then in ruins. He and his wife, a prominent architect, then embarked on an ambitious program of restoration in an effort to return the structure to its original state of grandeur. It was around this time that Andrews began buying casks of fine pot still whiskey from top distilleries in the country. The casks were further aged and bottled under what is now the Knappogue Castle label. His last bottling, a 1951 vintage aged 36 years, is revered by connoisseurs as the oldest and rarest commercially available Irish whiskey on the market. Many years later, his son, Mark Andrews III, would bring Knappogue 1951 and his father’s legacy to the United States and other international markets.
Today there are three single malt Irish whiskies available from Knappogue—the 12 year old, the 14 year old, and the 16 year old. Made with pure Irish spring water and malted barley, each of them is distilled three times in traditional copper pot stills in order to obtain the purest, smoothest spirit possible. After distillation the spirit is placed in bourbon oak casks, stored at a relatively consistent temperature, and aged for at least 12 years until the right balance of flavors and mellow appeal is achieved. The 14 and 16 year old whiskies receive further aging in Oloroso sherry casks through which they attain additional complexity and refinement.
These highly regarded whiskies stand apart from single malt Scotch since there is no peat involved in their elaboration, and yet, drier than most Bourbon whisky, they still satisfy the connoisseur whose taste runs in that direction. Any and all of them merit your attention.
12 Year Old 40% ABV $39.99 750 ml
Rich and biscuity on the nose with notes of pepper and spice. The palate is mellow and well-balanced with a bright, elegant fruitiness and mild spice flavors. Clean and smooth on the finish.
14 Year Old 46% ABV $59.99 750 ml
Notes of apple and apricot on the nose are followed by a rich palate with flavors of dried fruit, vanilla and nuts. The long finish is dry but lively with toasted barley tones.
16 Year Old 40% ABV $89.99 750 ml
Highly aromatic, the 16 year old is malty and fruity on the nose, while the palate is deep and complex, revealing the influence of its sojourn in sherry casks. It finishes long with some sweetness lingering.