Paris Whisky Live 2022 – VIP Antipodes Ex Libris – Knappogue Castle + JP Wiser

What the heck is the “Ex Libris” line from La Maison du Whisky’s Artist range all about? Put simply, this series goes beyond Scotland and links whisky to literature. Clean labels with a nod to days gone by, I was drawn to discover what lies between the covers of these “books.”

The quartet sampled at Paris Whisky Live featured a trio from Ireland from Knappogue Castle with three contrasting expressions (ex bourbon, sherry, and port) named after James Joyce poems followed by a remarkably aged Canadian J.P. Wiser – 40 years! – taking title inspiration from Canadian author Mordecai Richler.

As this was a Whisky fest, I kept to my pattern of sniff, swish and (sigh…) spit… which means my notes are fleeting impressions rather than proper tasting insights.

Knappogue Castle “Summer Wind” 28 Year (1994) ex-Bourbon Cask 888138 52.2% (LMdW ex Libris) EUR 540

  • Nose – Bright, light, and fruity, faintly floral
  • Palate – Darker dessert, vanilla cream, lovely balance, classic style
  • Finish – Light spice chased by candied ginger

An enchanting afternoon dram. I loved it! Such a perfect way to kick off our Knappogue Castle trio…

Knappogue Castle “Wind of Spices” 24 Year (1997) ex-Sherry Cask 87601 54.4% (LMdW) EUR 499

  • Nose – Delicious pastries, with some lovely heavier wood elements
  • Palate – Lovely rich, heavier, intense berries, chocolates, such depth of character… it almost touched being in the wood too long…. a bit vegetal
  • Finish – Long and strong

What a contrast with the ex-Bourbon! The Sherry cask added a marvelous dimension…. the kind of special dram you simply want to sit back, relax in a comfy leather chair with a damn good book…. slowly savoring for hours. Fabulous!

Knappogue Castle “Wind of May” 22 Year (2000) Ruby Port Cask 45429 56.8% (LMdW) EUR 515

  • Nose – Heavier
  • Palate – Hmmm…..  it was a bit too much punch for me, at least so early in the morning!
  • Finish – Bitter

For me, this was more of a winter dram than late-spring whisky.  Now I appreciate this was just a sniff and swish, however, I struggled with this one…. my scant tasting notes reflect this struggle too. Perhaps in a different setting, I would have a very different impression.

Changing gears, I moved on to The Apprenticeship, taken from Mordecai Richler’s novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959), which refers to the journey of J. P. Wiser’s master blender, Dr. Don Livermore.

JP Wiser’s “Apprenticeship” 40 year (1982) 61.9% (LMdW)

  • Nose – Spicy, Sweet corn then shifted into a deep woodsy dimension
  • Palate – Smooth, waxy…. a bit like flavored crayons, all sorts of elements going on
  • Finish – Spicy

Now, this is one I wish I could have given more time and attention to! It isn’t often you come across something of such a vintage – particularly from Canada. I will fully admit that for a Canadian, I’ve woefully neglected exploring the Canadian whisky scene in my infrequent trips to visit family and friends. And to have a slice of whisky history like this practically slip through my fingers (nostrils)? Ah well…

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