Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey

Summer is still upon us, so I don’t often feel like sitting down to sip a nice, warming glass of whiskey. But one recent night, after a long walk with my dog, it just seemed like the thing to do.

Knappogue Castle 12-year-old single malt Irish whiskey.

Knappogue Castle 12-year-old single malt Irish whiskey.

So I went to my liquor cabinet and there it was: Knappogue Castle 12-year-old single malt Irish whiskey. I had totally forgotten I even had this stuff because I hadn’t bought it. It was sent to me after I responded to a press release sent by the New York-based distiller. Let that serve as a disclaimer: I did not pay for the whiskey I am about to review.

Without further ado, let’s talk whiskey.

Taste

I think what I like best about this whiskey is how mellow it is. Before you even take a sip, you get a delightful whiff of alcohol. It almost burns your nostrils. But then you take a sip and it’s wonderfully smooth, though it does warm your esophagus as it goes down. The first thing you taste is vanilla and a hint of cinnamon, and it finishes with very smooth oak and ginger flavors. I’m a fan.

Profile

This clocks in at 40 percent ABV. According to the distiller’s website, “As a single malt Irish whiskey, it is crafted exclusively from unpeated, malted barley before being triple distilled through both pot and column stills. After distillation, it is aged for a minimum of 12 years in ex-bourbon casks before being bottled at 80 proof.”

How to drink it

That’s up to you. As I type this, I’m drinking it neat from a rocks glass. But if you prefer it cooled down a bit, you could serve it on the rocks or with a splash of water. Pick your poison. The only thing I would suggest is that you not mix it. This is really good, complex whiskey and mixing it would keep you from enjoying all the delicious and subtle flavors.

Value

Admittedly, this is pricey. You can buy a 750ml bottle directly from the distiller for $49.99 and Binny’s lists it for $39.99.

Metasip grade: A

This is a great sipping whiskey. It’s incredibly easy drinking and as sessionable (can you tell I’m usually a beer drinker?) as a whiskey can be. My only quibble is that it’s a little too pricey to be an everyday drink.

Mr. Katz Rock and Rye

Spirits Guy Bill Mayeroff returns! Check this particular combo out in his latest review.

Rye whiskey is an old school drink. According to Serious Eats, it was first brewed in colonial America in what became the eastern United States. George Washington even made rye at his Mount Vernon estate. [Editor’s Note: Not sure if there was a Mr. Katz in the White House and whether he was the one who brought the rock candy.]

These days, it doesn’t seem like we think about rye much. Sure, bars may have a bottle or two of Templeton’s on the shelf, but that’s about it. And we don’t drink it even if it’s there. Well, most don’t. I usually have a bottle of rye at home, but even I don’t drink it often.

So when I got a press release from the Brooklyn-based New York Distilling Company saying they had created a rock-and-rye – a mix of rye whiskey and rock candy sugar – I had to ask if they’d send me a bottle to review. I never thought for a second they’d do it, but lo and behold, a couple weeks later, a bottle appeared on my doorstep.

DISCLAIMER: I did not pay for the bottle of rock-and-rye I am about to review.

Mr. Katz Rock and Rye Review

Mr. Katz's Rock and Rye

Mr. Katz’s Rock and Rye

Though I’d had rye whiskey before, I’d never had rock-and-rye before trying Mr. Katz’s Rock and Rye. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, come on. Rye whiskey with rock candy sugar? I don’t know. I’m not a fan of sweet booze. So I was worried that it would be too sweet.

Turns out I had nothing to worry about.

The first thing that I noticed about it was the gorgeous caramel color. It’s deeper and richer than most ryes; very pleasant to look at. Opening the bottle and pouring a bit into a rocks glass, you get a strong smell of alcohol and spice. It’s almost overwhelming. Almost.

Take a sip and you get a sugary sweetness that lingers on the tongue. It’s sweet, but not cloying. The alcohol scent and cinnamon spiciness cuts through and tempers the sweetness just enough. It goes down smooth with a slight burn at first, but as you drink more, that burn evens out into a very pleasant warmth in your throat and esophagus. It’s a good winter sipper when consumed straight, though it would do well in cocktails over ice no matter what time of year you drink it.

The description on the bottle says the spirit contains hints of citrus, sour cherry and cinnamon. You can definitely taste the cinnamon, but I didn’t notice any citrus and only a very slight cherry scent.

The biggest problem with Mr. Katz’s Rock and Rye? You can’t get it in Chicago. At least it doesn’t seem like it. The New York Distilling website lists shops in New York where you can get it and a few of them will even take online orders. But shipping booze across state lines is a legal mess and not many shops will do it.

The moral of this story is this: Get yourself some Mr. Katz’s Rock and Rye if you can. And if you do, tell me where you got it.

Metasip Grade: B+

George Dickel Rye Whiskey

George Dickel Rye

Our resident Whiskey Guy is “Tampa Jim,” Jim Alexander, who tells me he can’t drink beer. Since Dave can’t drink whiskey (that often, at least), here’s Jim’s take on…George Dickel Rye Whiskey.

I have a big soft spot, going back a good 35+ years, for the products from the George Dickel distillery. Their #8 was, along with Jack Daniel’s Old Number 7 Black Label, seminal in my introduction to whiskeys as a young man. This rye whiskey is produced for George Dickel by MGPI in Indiana then sent back to Dickel to be run through their Lincoln County Process. This one is George Dickel Rye Whiskey, and let’s drink up!

George Dickel Rye Whiskey Review

Taste

As with many self respecting ryes, George Dickel Rye Whiskey starts off with a nice spicy nose.  What follows though gets a bit muddled. There’s some maple but the heavy oak makes this rye pass across the tongue in rougher fashion (a tad thin I would add) than is desired but, it still manages to finish reasonably well. Something of a conundrum.

Profile

45%ABV, 90 Proof

Value

$26.95,  750ml

Metasip Grade: B

George Dickel Rye is a respectable whiskey and a heck of a good bargain. It is, for my tastes, better suited for use in cocktails than it is for the sittin’ and sippin’. Pretty good for daily spillage.

Prichard’s Tennessee Whiskey

Guess what? We decided we needed to review more whiskey. So we did. Read on…

Prichards Tennessee Whiskey at Metasip

Prichards Tennessee Whiskey

We know we have a small sample size here: first a Moonshine, then Bulleit Rye. So we thought we’d take a look at something from a brand called Prichard’s. Here goes:

Prichard’s Tennessee Whiskey Review

Prichard’s is a relative newcomer in the Tennessee whiskey field, third behind the rather bigger dogs Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel. The distillery styles itself as a small pot, craft producer.

Taste

Pop the cork and Prichard’s Tennessee whiskey has decent nose. On the tongue you get what you’d expect out of a Tennessee whiskey (caramel, oak, vanilla) plus a little more corn than usual. It also has some pleasant fruit notes. Smooth going in, stays on the back of the throat on the way down.

Profile

40% ABV, 80 Proof

Value

$39.95 Retail, 750 ml

Metasip Grade: C

For all the world I could not differentiate this whiskey, sufficiently, from any number of its more well known competitors. It comes off tasting an awful lot like George Dickel #8, all caramel and oak with a smattering of otherwise basic accents. It is smooth, goes down easy and is quite inoffensive but, not remarkable in any sense. It simply does not stand out.

Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey

Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey

Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey

Bulleit Bourbon is known for their, well….. bourbon. They ventured into the rye whiskey field in 2011 shortly after they were added to the Diageo portfolio of distilled spirits. So,we have  a small batch (read: craft) spirit produced by a consumer goods juggernaut who promised to be hands off in the distilling decision making.  Here we go again…. or not?

Taste

First thing’s first. Out of the gate you get a pronounced, and spicy, rye punch. There is no mistaking this rye for anything else. The punch is short lived and mellows surprisingly fast and well. Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey comes with no alcohol burn. None at all. It is one smooth whiskey that finishes very clean. None of the lingering back of the throat bouquet you find in its bourbon brother.

Profile

45% ABV, 90 Proof – No kidding. This is your father’s whiskey.

Value

$27.95 Retail, 750 ml

Metasip Grade: A

Seems Diageo was good for their word, leaving the product up to the distiller. At under $30 a bottle, Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey is a steal. It compares favorably to rye whiskeys with better pedigree and costing significantly more money. I keep this one in my cabinet at all times.

BTW, I liked it so much, I created my own recipe. Here goes:

Old Jim Fashioned

  • 2-3 fingers Bulleit 95 Rye
  • Lime Peel
  • Ginger Ale
  • Peychaud’s Bitters

Pour the Bulleit over ice, zest the lime peel into the glass (put the peel in for good measure), give a few good splashes of bitters and top with your desired amount of ginger ale.