The latest Irish whiskey from Knappogue Castle is this 12 year old single malt, aged in bourbon barrels and then finished in Marco De Bartoli Marsala casks from the region of Samperi in Sicily.
You can smell the Marsala wine influence immediately when you crack open the bottle. The aromas of oxidized wine, citrus peel, and camphor are all heavy on the nose, overwhelming the more delicate aromas typically found in Irish whiskey. With time in glass, some of the cereal elements endemic to Irish single malts emerge, but they’re well hidden beneath all the wine.
The palate offers a similar experience, the Marsala making more of an impact than the whiskey proper. That pungent oxidized character can often be daunting in the wine, and while I can appreciate Marsala on its own, here its quirky charms are surprisingly overwhelming. Notes of raisins and citrus are detectable on the finish, but they’re hardly the focus when you’re facing a decidedly unsubtle Marsalafied slap to the face.