The Knot may just about have the boldest title for a spirit on the market today. But what is it? The best description would be a “whiskey-based liqueur” because the base is Irish whiskey from Bailieboro County, no-doubt mixed with other sweeteners and spices. My friend who recommended this to me last week said, “First it hits you like a cordial. Light and sweet. But then you get the kick of the whiskey.” And kick is right. The Knot is bottled at 100 proof, where most whiskeys are around 80. I have a love-hate relationship with whiskey-based liqueurs. Drambuie, which is quite comparative, is a blend of Scotch with heather, honey, and other spices, leading to a syrupy concoction pleasing on the palate and perfect for a cocktail or served on the rocks. It’s one of my favorites. Then you have a myriad of other flavored whiskeys like Fireball and such, all of which are marketed as whiskey liqueurs—and I absolutely despise them.
However, The Knot surpasses them all, except maybe Drambuie. It’s not as sweet, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s an underlying danger to this drink, because it goes through two phases like my friend said. There’s the first, where you get the sweetness and think, “This isn’t so bad”, but only a few seconds later, that 100 proof burn gently slides right down your throat and into your chest. Maybe I shouldn’t compare this to Drambuie. Maybe that’s like apples and oranges. The methods are probably similar, but we’re dealing with two different mediums here. Irish whiskey, as always, has a natural sweetness—that ease on the palate and a much cleaner aftertaste. It lacks the obvious peat-kick and smokiness that would be there if this was Scotch-based. The Knot has a bit of a sour nose upon opening the bottle, but once you pour it out, the aroma becomes more pleasing. There are hints of vanilla and possibly oak. As you raise the glass to your mouth, you pick up the scent of caramel. There’s a lot going on here, and that slight delay in the burn makes this an exceptionally smooth drink considering its proof.
Either way, this is a serious drink. Even the back label is a bit intimidating, warning drinkers with the following: “By cracking this seal of The Knot, you accept that drinking is never to be taken lightly and promise to act in a responsible fashion— not like some blithering idiot. You promise to drink The Knot straight up in a proper shot glass, rather than mixing it in some sort of novelty, tiny umbrella, fruit fiasco. And finally, you vow that you will never drink to anything that you are not prepared to go through with. If, in any way, you are not willing to abide by these conditions, by all means, please refrain from opening this bottle.” Well, there you have it. The Knot gets 4 out of 5 stars from me, and will probably be a mainstay on my bar for some time. I’d be curious to see how this would taste in a cocktail, but I’m also afraid that whoever wrote the back label will come find me if I try it.