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Irish Whiskey Trio from Knappogue Castle featuring James Joyce's poetry

The Ex Libris collection from La Maison du Whisky is designed to discover other great whisky nations from a "literary perspective". The label of each bottle is designed like a book cover, each bottling bearing the title of a work by an author from the country the selection is dedicated to.

 

 

This year, the Ex Libris collection will return to Ireland with 3 expressions of Knappogue Castle Irish single malt – each expression matured in a different cask style.

This collection is inspired by a collection of poems by James Joyce – the famed Irish author who wrote Ulysses (1920). A verse is chosen for each bottle to match its flavour, aroma profile and cask style: Summer Wind for the 1994 version matured in bourbon casks, Wind of Spices for the version distilled in 1997 and matured in sherry casks, and Winds of May for the 2000 vintage matured in port casks. 

 

"Summer Wind" Knappogue Castle Irish Single Malt 1994, 28 YO – 52.4% ABV

Single Cask #888138 - First Fill Bourbon (LMDW exclusive)

 

 

This very fruity and delicately floral version and its beautiful herbaceous freshness unmistakably echoes the outstanding Knappogue Castle 1994 (cask 888139) from our 2022 creation catalogue. At once soberly classic and overflowing with exoticism and lyricism, its palette of flavours and aromas is a true ode to Ireland. 

This has an outrun of 184 bottles.

 

Tasting Notes
 
Colour
 
Golden yellow.
 
Nose
 
Lively and fresh.
 
The wonderfully exotic (passion fruit, pineapple, banana), lemony, vanilla, honeyed (acacia) and lush (barley field) first nose reveals incredible distinction. Allowed to breathe, juicy pears, verbena and star anise are added to the initial aromas. The dynamic palette of aromas then becomes increasingly medicinal (ointment), resinous and herbaceous (rosemary, sage).
 

Taste
 
Frank, invigorating.
 
Tracing a line of vanilla and lemon that goes to the very heart of the palate, the attack is also captivatingly exotic. On the mid-palate, notes of candied ginger, fresh walnut and coriander bring lots of smoothness to the flavour palette. Next, florals (iris butter, lily, hyacinth) fragrance a particularly rich (vanilla flan) end to the palate.
 

Finish
 
Long, appealing.
 
Characterised by a very pleasant malty bitterness, the start of the finish invites us to enjoy a frozen yoghurt. At the end of the finish, notes of cut hay, lucerne and white mint create a natural finale. The spicy (cardamom, nutmeg) and vanilla retronasal olfaction produces a truly fruity-fresh feeling of rejuvenation. The empty glass reproduces the intense flavours of passion fruit, pineapple and banana found on the first nose. 

 

"Wind of Spices" Knappogue Castle Irish Single Malt 1997, 24 YO – 54.6% ABV

Single Cask #888138 - Sherry Cask (LMDW exclusive)

 

 

The second part of the triptych dedicated to Knappogue Castle, this outstanding sherry cask bottling left its native Ireland long ago, instead taking up residence in the south of Spain. With extraordinary concentration and expressive power, its palette of flavours and aromas is seeped in the elements more commonly found in the fortified wines of its adopted land. With a mature expression marked by wonderfully oxidative sequences, the infinitely delicate mouthfeel transcends this prestigious Irish whiskey.

This has an outrun of 516 bottles. 

 

Tasting Notes
 
Colour
 
Burnished gold with copper tinges.
 
Nose
 
Rich, concentrated.
 
Delicately earthy and rooty (gentian), deliciously fruity (quince, persimmon), subtly vegetal (Havana cigar), preciously woody (beeswax, wood varnish) and softly powdery (cocoa, coffee bean), the first nose reveals unending depth. Allowed to breathe, very seductive and refined notes of rubber and tarmac add a sunny dimension to the aroma palette. Rose petal, juicy melon and candied apricot than elegantly punctuate this magnificent sequence of fragrances.
 

Taste
 
Full-bodied, generous.
 
In complete harmony with the nose, the attack deploys beautiful creamy tannins that softly envelop the taste buds. The sherry cask’s influence reaches its zenith. Flavours of praline, iris butter, grilled almond, Corinthian raisin, walnut and date flood the taste buds. At the end of the palate, a delicious orange liqueur and noble spices (ginger, clove, nutmeg) appear alongside exotic fruits (guava, mango).
 

Finish
 
Long, silky.
 
Like a raspberry brandy, the start of the finish reveals an incredible fresh expression. At the end of the finish, the flavour palette then changes track completely, taking us deep into a field of vines to pick dessicated grapes. The divinely syrupy retronasal olfaction is composed of abundant dried fruit and nuts (raisin, fig, date, hazelnut, chestnut). Then, just when we thought the tasting was over, a magnificent apricot rancio and heady florals (iris, mimosa) draws it out even further. The empty glass is characterised by notes of polish (wax, pine resin) and tobacco.

   

"Winds of May" Knappogue Castle Irish Single Malt 2000, 22 YO – 57% ABV

Single Cask #888138 - Ruby Port Cask (LMDW exclusive)

 

The third and final part in the triptych dedicated to Knappogue Castle, this ruby port cask bottling has chosen to settle down in Lusitania. Very intense, it has filled up on red and black fruits and taken on very subtle chocolate, herbaceous and floral nuances that are usually the preserve of famous fortified wines. And yet, despite relegating malted barley to a supporting role, it remains true to its Irish roots, recreating the generous and extraordinarily seductive character of the best Irish whiskeys.

This has an outrun of 630 bottles. 

 

Tasting Notes
 
Colour
 
Pink copper.
 
Nose
 
Full, fleshy.
 
With a very pleasant vinosity (black grape), the first nose takes us quickly to a lagare vat where the grapes have just been crushed underfoot. The incredibly delicate aroma palette is also finely oxidative (crushed apricot, brandied cherry, strawberry and raspberry). Gradually, notes of prune appear alongside dark chocolate, fig and tobacco. Superb.
 

Taste
 
Svelte, lively.
 
On the attack, cocoa powder spreads across the taste buds. Next, candied fruit (apricot, peach) and plantain banana bring the flavour palette lots of charm. On the mid-palate, citrus fruits (mandarin, orange) make a very well-timed entrance. The end of the palate is refreshed with various infusions (black tea, sage, absinthe) and eucalyptus flavours.
 

Finish
 
Long, silky.
 
The mineral start of the finish (slate) wavers between heady florals (hawthorn, honeysuckle, gillyflower), red and black fruits (strawberry, grape, cherry) and spices (curry, cinnamon, ginger). Like a delicious crème brûlée, the retro-nasal olfaction is incredibly smooth. The empty glass reveals particularly intense fragrances of lime blossom, elderflower and forest floor (mushroom, lichen).
 
@CharsiuCharlie