Jul 26

Knappogue Castle 16 Year Old Irish Whiskey – Review

Knappogue 16 Year Old Irish WhiskeyKnappogue Castle 16 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

80 Proof

Price Point: $85 – $95 for 750 ML

Distiller: Unknown

 

Background

The fourth and final whiskey I am reviewing as part of Castle Brands’ sample portfolio is Knappogue Castle 16 Year Old.  In case you missed previous posts, I have already reviewed Clontarf 1014, Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old, and Knappogue Castle 14 Year Old.

 

Review

The nose on Knappogue Castle 16 Year Old is once again malty and sherried with nicely matured oak.  It’s mellow on the nose, with cherries and whipped cream.

The additional two years of aging are really evident in the taste.  This is a more subdued, more complex whiskey than the 14 Year Old.  Notes of pears and a little pineapple make this a fruit a medley in the mouth.  It’s also very malty, as seems to be the signature of Knappogue Castle.

The finish is sweet and pleasant, with a surprising nutmeg note to finalize things.

 

Rating & Recommendations

Knappogue Castle 16 Year Old rounds out the brand’s portfolio nicely, earning a rating of 88 out of 100.

This is a very nice single malt that I would absolutely recommend, although I can’t help but think it’s a bit overpriced – I may have never tasted it had I not received a free sample.

 

-Ryan

Jul 24

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment (Day 145)

Sometimes things don’t quite go according to plan.  This experiment is one of those things.

Clearly, after taking some samples during this series of blog posts, my barrel lost some of its volume.  Just as a watched pot never boils (or however that cliche is phrased), a watched barrel of whiskey doesn’t mature.  I stayed away from my barrel until today (July 24th), when I picked it up and noticed it was a little light.  Upon further inspection (opening the bung and holding the barrel upside down), my barrel was empty.

After initial shock and frustration, I realized this was a chance to learn a lesson.  A very expensive lesson – the new make I used, Corsair Wry Moon, goes for about $35 per bottle, and I bought two of them for this.

I learned that the angel’s share phenomenon happens even more rapidly when less whiskey is in the barrel.  I had read that you should periodically add new make to the barrel to keep it full during the maturation process, but I ignored this as I felt it was was, in essence, working backwards.

Although I will not be writing a blog series, I will be refilling my barrel with Buffalo Trace Wheated Recipe White Dog.  I will keep my barrel full and hopefully have a better story to share in a few months.

 

-Ryan

Jul 12

Knappogue Castle 14 Year Old Irish Whiskey – Review

Knappogue 14 Year Old Irish WhiskeyKnappogue Castle 14 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

92 Proof

Price Point: $45 – $55 for 750 ML

Distiller: Unknown

 

Background

If you have kept up with my blog in the last several weeks, you will notice that I have been reviewing whiskeys sent to me by Castle Brands.  Four weeks ago, I reviewed Clontarf 1014, and two weeks ago I reviewed Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old.  This week I am reviewing the latter’s older brother, Knappogue Castle 14 Year Old.

 

Review

On the nose, Knappogue Castle 14 Year Old has fairly mature oak, with a little more Irish high notes than the 12 Year Old.  There’s also cinnamon red hots; this one is slightly spicy.

In the mouth, this whiskey is malty, smooth and spicy.  Knappogue Castle 14 Year Old has some more mature oak with leather.  This is a single malt that gives its Scottish competition a run for their money.

There are green apples on the finish, lingering nicely at 46%.

 

Rating & Recommendations

This is an enjoyable whiskey, earning a rating of 85 out of 100.

Knappogue 14 Year Old lives up to the standards of many single malt Scotches, which leads me to believe that this brand will do alright if they can get some serious exposure.

 

-Ryan

Jun 28

Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey – Review

Knappogue 12 Year Old Irish WhiskeyKnappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

80 Proof

Price Point: $35 – $45 for 750 ML

Distiller: Unknown

 

Background

Two weeks ago I reviewed Clontarf 1014, an Irish whiskey that was sent to me by Castle Brands to review.  This week, I’m stepping it up and trying their single malt Irish, Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old.

 

Review

The nose on Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old is full of thick, hearty sourdough bread.  It’s also fruity (sherried), but something is a bit off.  There’s a bitterness that’s slightly uninviting.

This whiskey is very much sherried in the mouth, and reminiscent of Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old.  This is another Irish whiskey with lots of interesting malty characteristics mixed with sherry cask aging.

There’s a decent length on the finish with more rich sherry to round things out.

 

Rating & Recommendations

Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old impressed me enough to earn a rating of 83 out of 100.

Although I certainly prefer single malt Irish whiskeys over their grainy, mass-produced countrymen, I wonder if Irish whiskeys lose a bit of their identity and heritage in this style.  I suppose that can be addressed in a blog post at another time.

 

-Ryan

Jun 14

Clontarf 1014 Irish Whiskey – Review

Clontarf 1014 Irish WhiskeyClontarf 1014 Triple Distilled Irish Whiskey

80 Proof

Price Point: $15 – $25 for 750 ML

Distiller: Unknown

 

Background

99% of my reviews are from bottles that I purchased on my own.  However, I am always open to trying new whiskeys and reviewing them honestly on this blog, even if they are given to me for free.  I feel I owe it to the readers of this blog to let you know that this and my next three reviews were from whiskeys given to me by Castle Brands.  As always, I will review these fairly and objectively; I have not been paid by this company to review these whiskeys.

That being said, the first whiskey I will review is Clontarf 1014 Irish Whiskey.

 

Review

The nose on Clontarf 1014 is medicinal, grainy, and honeyed.  It’s also floral and fruity, in a very light way.

In the mouth, this whiskey has a medium-bodied mouthfeel.  It’s tastier than expected, but still just a basic Irish.  Clontarf 1014 is very young (aged four years) and triple-distilled in the Irish tradition – removing the bulk of the base of the whiskey’s flavor, in my opinion.  There’s very little wood (barrel) influence and all grainy high notes.

The finish is fruity, surprising me with its decent length.

 

Rating & Recommendations

Clontarf 1014 gets a C+ overall grade, with a rating of 78 out of 100.

This is just about what you would expect out of an entry-level Irish whiskey.  Fans of Jameson that want a little more bang for their buck may enjoy this one.

 

-Ryan

Jun 07

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment (Day 98)

Mini Barrel Aging Experiment 10After taking a brief hiatus from my experiment in order to allow my whiskey to mature without interruption, I am back at it, and trying another sample.  Today is Day 98, and the spirit in my barrel hasn’t been touched since April 12th.  Let’s get into it.

This whiskey is certainly developing in its color as it has rested in the barrel.  I suppose more than three months exposed to charred oak will do that.  However, it’s still not as dark as many of the ryes that have sat on my shelf, which is my first indicator that this is still relatively “young”.

On the nose, this whiskey is still very much in its development stage.  It’s young, but continues to pick up smoky characteristics from the wood.

The taste on this whisky is really starting to get good.  The malted rye is beginning to make a defined appearance, along with woody, earthy smoke.  It’s exciting to literally taste the progress this is making.

On the finish, it’s still young, and the new make taste (Corsair Wry Moon) remains apparent.

I am still enjoying this experiment, but recognize that significantly more Mini Barrel Aging Experiment 11time in the barrel is needed.
We will re-visit this on Day 154 (August 2nd).

Edit: final post on this experiment can be found here.

 

-Ryan

May 31

Jefferson’s Bourbon – Review

Jefferson's BourbonJefferson’s Very Small Batch Kentucky Straight Whiskey

82.3 Proof

Price Point: $25 – $35 for 750 ML

Distiller: McLain & Kyne

 

Background

A little more than a year ago, I reviewed Jefferson’s 10 Year Old Rye.  In the “Background” section, I mentioned my first experience with this brand, in which I was unimpressed with their trade show representation, and their bourbon.  Because I really enjoy their rye, I thought I would give their bourbon another shot, as admittedly, I may have been biased during my first tasting.  Below are my unbiased findings.

 

Review

The nose on Jefferson’s Bourbon starts with toasted oak.  Soon, it becomes slightly nutty, with corn and rye.  It’s a little spicy (peppery) and bitter, but pretty mellow overall.

Candy-like sweetness on the tip of the tongue gets the taste of Jefferson’s Bourbon started.  Next, there’s corn and oak, with an overall light mouthfeel.  I would really prefer a higher proof on this whiskey, as I have a difficult time picking out anything else too interesting.

There’s a touch of caramel on a relatively brief, bitter finish.

 

Rating & Recommendations

This “very small batch” bourbon falls a bit flat at a rating of 78 out of 100.

As stated before, a little bit higher of a proof may have saved this otherwise uninteresting whiskey.

 

-Ryan

May 17

Bulleit Bourbon – Review

Bulleit BourbonBulleit Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

90 Proof

Price Point: $20 – $30 for 750 ML

Distiller: Bulleit Distilling Co.

 

Background

Bulleit is another one of those bourbons that I see on the shelf frequently, but have never actually purchased. In fact, this review is from a borrowed bottle. It’s not that it’s too expensive or that I don’t like it (I’ve had it on several occasions at the bar), it’s just nothing all that special in my opinion. Many will argue that it’s higher-than-average amount of rye on the mashbill makes Bulleit unique, but to me, it’s just an ordinary bourbon.

Of course, this is just my opinion, and readers of this blog are welcomed and encouraged to voice their own in the comments.

 

Review

The nose on Bulleit Bourbon starts with a nice balance of corn, rye, and wheat.  There’s a fair amount of charred oak smoke, followed by a bit of mint and some sweet vanilla.

In the mouth, there’s more rye and corn.  Bulleit Bourbon tastes a little young, but nicely balanced, with a decent bite for 90 proof.  This whiskey is peppery yet also sweet.  I like this bourbon but I can’t say it has anything uniquely defining about it.

Bulleit’s finish is surprisingly lengthy; it bites you back.

 

Rating & Recommendations

Bulleit Bourbon earns an okay rating of 83 out of 100.

Not a bad whiskey, but not something I would seek out.  This is an entry level bourbon that serves its purpose; would probably be interesting for cocktail experimentation.

 

-Ryan

May 03

Jura Superstition Scotch – Review

Jura Superstition ScotchJura Superstition Lightly Peated Single Malt Scotch Whisky

86 Proof

Price Point: $45 – $55 for 750 ML

Distiller: Jura Distillery

 

Background

No age statement whiskeys seem to have become more and more prevalent in recent years.  The mainstay Scotch brands such as Glenlivet and Glenfiddich still rely on their standard 12, 15, and 18 year old offerings, but many other brands are releasing expressions that are unique mixes of the distillery’s single malts at different ages. What this tells me is that consumers are less worried about the prestige of an older whiskey, and more concerned about taste. I can get on board with that concept.

Jura Superstition is a blend of Jura’sfinest young and aged (up to 21 years) whiskies“. It is lightly peated, according to the label, and should make for an interesting piece to their portfolio opposite the 10 Year Old that I already reviewed.

 

Review

The nose on Jura Superstition is malty and yeasty, with some light smoke and peat.  There’s sourdough bread and a little bit of candy (licorice?). I also detect honey akin to a Balvenie.  Superstition’s nose is complex and certainly interesting.

In the mouth, Superstition has more peat and smoke, with a thin mouthfeel. It’s a little disappointing, although it tasted better the second time I went to review.  I get a touch of fruity sweetness with malt toward the end.  This whisky is very smooth, with some unique grass notes.

Jura Superstition’s finish is malty, spicy, and mid-length.

 

Rating & Recommendations

This tasty dram earns a rating of 82 out of 100.

Although incredibly smooth, Jura Superstition was not what I expected (and hoped) it would be.  This is a very good whisky on the nose, but disappoints later in the tasting experience.

 

-Ryan

Apr 19

Collingwood Canadian Whisky – Review

Collingwood Canadian WhiskyCollingwood Hand-Crafted Blended Canadian Whisky

80 Proof

Price Point: $20 – $30 for 750 ML

Distiller: Brown-Forman Beverages

 

Background

Much to my surprise upon writing this, I have only reviewed one other Canadian whisky on this blog – Forty Creek. I admitted in that review that I am not partial to Canadian whisky in general, as I feel that, for the most part, it lacks the character and complexity of other whiskies from around the world.

Enter Collingwood, my second Canadian whisky review. Will it break the mold of dull Canadian whiskies, or will it be another reason to spend less time in that aisle in the liquor store?

 

Review

The nose on this whisky starts out light and unmistakably Canadian.  Collingwood slowly transitions from dull to interesting, with lightly toasted marshmallows and a slightly nutty aroma.  This is a toned-down version of Forty Creek.

The taste is all walnuts and almonds.  Collingwood is much more interesting than the initial nose predicted.  It’s a little thin in mouthfeel and flavor.  It’s grainy and young tasting, but very smooth.

Collingwood Canadian finishes with more alcohol than elsewhere in the experience, and is also rather dry.

 

Rating & Recommendations

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Collingwood Canadian to a friend, given its rating of 80 out of 100.

This is a nice Canadian (aren’t all Canadians nice?), but still not something I would go out of my way to recommend.  There are certainly better ones out there.

 

-Ryan

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