Our New England readership might be forgiven if in reading about the Twinwood expression from Knappogue Castle, it reasoned that two longstanding casinos—Twin Rivers and Foxwoods—had merged and celebrated their union by commissioning a special Irish whiskey. That is not the case. But the delights in this dram do call to mind other wonderful pairings. Koko the Gorilla and her kitten, All Ball. Peanut butter and chocolate. Or a paddle used in a regatta on a brackish lake whilst the other one is kept in a linen closet in a house frequently scrubbed by the OCD housecleaner. He charges waaay too little. I’ve seen him with the lemon soap, or that’s what I thought until I looked closer. Actually it’s a scalene triangle of Parmesan that he’s working on a perforated washboard. The bits of cheese land like snow on an arugula salad in a clear takeout container. The rest of the nose (I’m there, dear reader; keep up) is kiwi, cut into thin translucent discs, and used to buff the nails of a mole. A cigarette ash roux with cream of tartar and attar of chrysanthemums. A kindergarten graduation gown freshly back from the dry cleaner, the blotches of celebratory chocolate pudding now evident only in photographs.
Wow, there’s a bright, fruity mouth. Candied apricots next to fresh apricots. And a cloisonné dish of gingered apricot butterscotches. Bill detects a consistency like a sauterne, being neither syrupy nor like most other wines, but somewhere in between. Stephen then breaks into song “For every sauterne, terne, terne. There is a season, terne, terne, terne.” The mouthfeel coats like ermine cotton balls, the real calling card of an Upper West Side boutique dentist. Gentle smoke like that on the nose but now it’s pulled through a tobacco-free argileh by a circus walrus.
This has a nice long finish. The wood is woven in there nicely, so very delicately, with a subtlety not found in that 14 year-old Scandinavian kid (“he thinks he knows everything,” his mother hisses) ordering for the table at a Burmese restaurant. Goji berries steeped until they burst on your tongue. Explosive little berry bombs. We wonder about the wood. How did it achieve such subtle complexity but retain the delightful youthfulness and lightness? An Irishman might point out that this is the result of triple distillation. But eschewing Occam’s razor, we prefer to think that it’s matured in the ex-bourbon barrel of Dorian Gray, which leads us further to wonder about the location and nature of the real ex-bourbon barrel, how it must be a withered and cracked bracket of mismatched planks, desiccated like a cat mummy’s bones, ready to become tinder.
The Knappogue Castle Twinwood 14 is Basil Hallward–Earnest unto moralizing, yet possessed of great artistic talent, he has a refinement, grace, and depth, a rare combination indeed.
–Our thanks to Laura Baddish and Castle Brands for the sample!