Whisky Advocate

Two Irish whiskey brands at the top of their game

April 22nd, 2011

Knappogue Castle and Michael Collins Irish whiskeys have been around for a while. There are new releases by both labels that I enjoy, and wanted to share this information with you.

Knappogue has offered many expressions over the years, from three different Irish distilleries, including vintage release and whiskeys with age statements.  Other than the original 1951 vintage from the long-gone B. Daly distillery (where Tullamore Dew used to be made), I think this “Twin Wood” 16 year old is my favorite.

It’s aged in bourbon casks first, and then finished in sherry casks. My main issue with some of the Knappogue releases in the past is that they have been a bit on the youthful side. This one is nicely matured and the sherry adds an extra layer of flavors. (There’s no disclosure on where this came from, buy my guess is Bushmills.) It will set you back $100.

Michael Collins, offering both a single malt and a blended whiskey (from the Cooley distillery), was originally released with no age statement. My issue was the same as with Knappogue Castle–it tasted a little big green when originally released. Now, they have changed the packaging and also bottled the single malt at 10 years of age.  Cooley has been releasing some great whiskeys lately, and this is another example of the quality of their work. I’m not tasting sherry in this one. It’s just a very nice, straight-forward Irish single malt.

You might want to give both of these a try if you are an Irish whiskey drinker.

19 Responses to “Two Irish whiskey brands at the top of their game”

  1. Vince says:

    Thanks for this information and it actually put a question in my head that I have been meaning to ask. What Irish Whisky would you recommend to someone that is a bourbon drinker and does not have much experience with Irish Whisky?

    • George Jetson says:

      I’m not John, but my recommendations would be either Black Bush or Jameson Gold. Both are excellent, bold, easy-drinking Irish whiskies that aren’t too expensive. It’s a great introduction to the style, although both have more than a bit of sherry-aged barrels in the mix.

    • John Hansell says:

      Vince, if you are a bourbon drinker, you might want to start with an Irish whiskey that was aged in a bourbon barrel–like the Michael Collins 10 year old single malt pictured above.

  2. Helge says:

    John, I just spocke last week with Noel Sweeny (Masterblender Cooley): Michael Collins used to be 8Y. – and it’s deffinetly a different recepie than the Lock’s 8Y. Malt!

  3. ps says:

    I’ve seen the Knappogue reduced to below $70 at a few stores.

  4. Scott says:

    Any changes to, or improvements in, the blended bottling of Michael Collins? My experience with it has been very inconsistent. The only two bottles I’ve ever bought but not finished were a duty-free Loch Dhu in 2000 and a bottle of blended Michael Collins in 2008. Wretched stuff. (Both bottles bought because I liked the name, but knew nothing about the spirit in the bottle: Lesson learned.) Yet I was more recently served a dram of blended Michael Collins that was a very fine whiskey, easily the equal of any blended Irish whiskey I’ve tasted.

    Was I just very unlucky in 2008, or very lucky in 2010, or is there a concerted effort to improve the quality of the blended Michael Collins?

  5. PeteR says:


    Thanks for the reviews. I tried the Knappogue 12 yr for St Patrick’s this year and it’s not a bad value at $35/bottle, but not too impressive either. Up until recently I’d pretty much stuck with Bushmills 10 and 16 or Connemara. Have you seen the Knappogue 16 in the US yet? How would you compare the it to the Bushmills 10 doublewood or the Bushmills 16 triplewood?

  6. Red_Arremer says:

    What’s the price range on this Michael Collins 10?

    • Aaron Barker says:

      I generally see the Michael Collins 10yr around $40, I believe. I’ve not tried it, myself, but am led to believe that it is significantly better than the blend. I’ve tasted the blend and it was incredibly thin. Almost non-existent for me. It can’t help but improve if that is indeed the case as reported above…

      • Red_Arremer says:

        40$ would be a nice price for a 10yo single malt from Cooley– I will definitely look out for that, Aaron. Cooley has an irritating tendency of pricing their age statement whisky really high– Connemara 12, The finished Tyrconnels, That 15 yo– is it a Greenore or a Kilbeggan actually I think…., etc.– Anyways, good whiskies but all in the hundred dollar range. Why?

        • John Hansell says:

          Red, welcome to (what I fear is becoming) the new “normal” in whiskey (and whisky): 15-ish year old whiskeys costing $100.

          • Red_Arremer says:

            I feel that trend coming too, John– These days Glenlivet 15 is starting to look like a great whisky at a great price. That wasn’t exactly the case, say, 4 years ago.

  7. JohnM says:

    Maybe I’m naive, but I think the price of Cooley’s stuff will go down when get into their larger stocks. There was very little older stock as the NAS Connemara was so popular, but I’m sure they’ve increased capacity.

  8. […] bottled at 51.7% and that will be available at USA as a Committee release in June. He also reviews two Irish whiskeys: Michael Collins and Knappogue […]

  9. Eric says:

    So do people in Ireland start conversations with, “Have you seen Michael Collins?”

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