Outstanding whiskey for the price – Especially for anything close to this quality. Good luck finding a bourbon or a Scotch or this age and complexity for the money.
Notes: Red Breast has always been one of my perennial favorite Irish whiskeys and a reliable choice at a ( better ) bar. Made in Midleton, Ireland, Red Breast is a brand owned by Irish Distillers, a holding or Pernod Ricard ( who also owns Wild Turkey in a related whiskey and avian coincidence – and they share about as much common characteristics as a side observation – radical differences yet common characteristics in some ways). Made from a mix of malted and unmalted barley, which helps in the complexity of the finished product in several ways, it is interesting that all this can be done without mixing in other grains to achieve the complexity of this whiskey. Triple distilled in pot stills, then aged in a mix of used bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry butts (cask of approximately 126-132 U.S. gallons or roughly double the size of a bourbon barrel), then blended to achieve their hallmark expression the 12 Year Old.
I will skip over some of the details and refer the interested reader to the Red Breast website, which contains a fair amount of details ( indeed more information than many other websites if not exhaustive as some ( such as Waterford Whiskey) have enough information to make it worth digging through – unlike about 80 percent of other website IMHO.
This year, Red Breast has come out with an interesting giftie for giving and receiving in the form of a limited edition Bird Feeder. Commemorating the relationship between the whiskey and its namesake, the red-breasted robin. The Redbreast Project Wingman birdfeeder is both an attractive gift for a bird enthusiast and a support to Birdlife International, which you can support by buying this bottle set. Their goal is ” To keep common birds common.” Last year, Redbreast donated over 70,000 Pounds Sterling to the fund through the sales of this gift package.
Red Breast also produces seven other quite varied expressions of their whiskey, which we hope to review at some point in the murky future.
Appearance: Clear, golden, red straw color with an ever so slight viscous appearance, like first-run maple syrup ( which to me is the highest and best form of maple syrup, not that 30W engine oil type of syrup so many people love) On swirling it leaves a light coating on the glass. The meniscus retreats, forming a few legs on its way back down.
First Impression: Quite complex from the outset, Marzipan ( OK, some plastic explosives smell much like that too ) nutmeg, creamy almond, and allspice, hints of Vietnamese cinnamon, with pleasantly fruity and aromatic scents of dried orange, jasmine, frangipani, and other delicate scents backstopped by Spanish cedar, acacia, grape and toasty notes with saddle leather, Erimore flake, corn, malt, and caramel toasted/very slightly charred barrel notes to round out and anchor with bass notes to form a harmonious whole.
Taste: Full flavored and complex: silky smooth with a harmonious balance of spicy, fruity, sherry, and toasted notes. Finishes with a long, lingering note, as the Japanese say so well: Shiripin; it has a tail, lingering and pleasant; it stays with you like a lover’s kiss, complex, lovely, and heartwarming.
Drinks: Makes for a number of excellent cocktails, but frankly, it really is outstanding and great on its own, and adding too much to it is like covering a beautiful person with too many clothes and hiding what makes them lovely to the eye and heart. Sometimes, less is more up to a point. It can certainly accentuate a certain number of great other ingredients up to a point, but burying it under too many is a crime.
Bottle: Dark green glass to protect the whiskey from UV degradation and a signature bell or pot still shaped bottle that is easy to spot and hard to tip over. The slightly bulbous neck fits the hand well, and the bottle overall has a nice balance. Dark red neck foil that is easy to remove. The foil has an imprint with an age statement, and underneath on the top of the stopper is a drawing of a Red-breasted Robin stamped into the top and “Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey ” stamped on the rim. There has been a bit of an upgrade on the bottle recently. They have added “REDBREAST” molded into the shoulder of the bottle in capital letters on the front of the bottle and “SINGLE POT STILL” on the back shoulder.
Bird Feeder: Nicely done forest green-colored aluminum.Stamped “REDBREAST” on the shoulder with a red-breasted robin and” Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Aged 12 Years “on the front plate. Forest motif lattice on sides and back for easy bird access. Red leather strap stamped in gold with “Redbreast Single Pot Still” on each side. While it LOOKS like a nice feeder, I have my doubts about its overall utility and construction. There is a lack of a real perch around the edge, and there is a tendency for it to leak birdseed all through the lattice work ( a plastic sleeve would help). The strap, being leather, is going to rot and break, too.
On the other hand, it makes a great little bar light! If they redesigned the front plate to be transparent/translucent, it could be a great little advertisement.
Other: ” AN UNCOMPROMISING DEDICATION TO QUALITY AND TO THE ENDURING TRADITION OF IRISH POT STILL WHISKEY IS THE HALLMARK OF REDBREAST.” Indeed.
Final Thoughts: A truly outstanding Irish Whiskey that has stood the test of time. While there are some other great ones out there, this was one of the first to really show what Irish whiskey is and should be, especially in the face of a lot of lesser brands that dominate the market. A classic that has stood the test of time and stands up well in its class.
Overall, it is an excellent website by industry standards. Not as much information to satisfy true whiskey geeks, but more than enough for most whiskey fans and an excellent overview of many expressions most people will not be familiar with. For an even deeper dive, join their” Birdhouse.”