Origin: Cork (Ireland)
Type: Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry Oloroso
Added coloring: No
Owner: The Midleton Distillery
Average price: € 62.00
Official website: www.redbreastwhiskey.com
The Emerald Isle is experiencing a vibrant renaissance in whiskey production, but despite the slaughter of distilleries it suffered not so many years ago, some have managed to survive even in the darkest of times, and one of these is Redbreast.
Founded in Dublin in 1861 as a local subsidiary of London’s W&A Gilbey, the distillery was initially set up as a bonder, a widespread practice in Ireland where liquor merchants would buy freshly produced spirit from the various distilleries to mature in their own casks and then bottle it themselves. It was in 1912 that the first Redbreast (made from distillate from Jameson) was born, aged 12 years, named after robins in honour of the ornithological passion of the then chairman of Gilbey.
Production and business proceeded apace, until Irish Distillers, which controlled most of the distilleries, decided in 1968 to stop supplying whiskey to the bonders, including Gilbey, which managed, however, to make an exception (as happened also for the Mitchells), except that three years later it found itself moving production to Cork due to the closure of all the distilleries in the capital.
In 1985 production of Redbreast was stopped, selling the brand the following year to the current owners who relaunched it in 1991, starting with the consolidated 12 years.
Currently the core portfolio includes age-standardised whiskies (12 year old, 12 year old Cask Strength, 15 year old, 21 year old and 27 year old) and NAS Lustau.
Rebreast is one of the few single pot still Irish whiskies on the market, a genre that was very much in vogue until the turn of the last century, made from malted and unmalted barley.
This cask strength version was launched in 2011, in different batches and strengths: the one in my hands is the B1/12 from 2012.
Gold with amber reflections in the glass.
The alcohol overbearingly attacks the nose, it’s necessary to give the whiskey time to aerate and mitigate, and in a few minutes it opens up to herbaceous and floral scents, very delicate and balsamic, soon joined (and surpassed) by sultanas, cooked plums, caramel, vanilla, red fruits, chocolate. Smooth wood and nutmeg in the background.
The alcohol content is strong on the palate, it has to be approached with some caution but it is manageable, attacking with a peppery wave that opens the way to softer and warmer tones (at times it seems like a brandy), with black cherries in alcohol, chocolate, cooked apples, cinnamon, butter biscuits, a touch of liquorice and hazelnuts. Silky wood sensation. An impression of coffee.
Not very long finish of cooked apples, spices, black cherries, hazelnuts.
The Sherry casks are the master, greatly influencing the notes of the dram, which is challenging due to the alcohol content (perhaps excessive) but full and pressing, with a fullness that is not generally associated with Irish spirits.