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Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength – Batch B1/16

Review: Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength
Single Pot Still Whisky Irish Whiskey  – Batch B1/16   (97.5/100)

a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted March 17, 2017

The town of Midleton (near Cork City) is home to the largest distillery in Ireland, aptly named the Midleton Distillery. This distillery is part of the Pernod-Ricard group of companies, and it is home to a variety of Irish Whiskey Brands. Powers, Paddy, Tullamore Dew, and Red Breast all are distilled at the Midleton Distillery, as is of course, the largest selling Irish Whiskey Brand in the world, Jameson.  (Incidentally, the Jameson Brand is also part of the Pernod-Ricard conglomerate of companies.)

The Redbreast brand was originally produced at Gilbey’s (although the distillate was produced at Midleton), however in the 1980s the brand was purchased by Irish Distillers, (the producers of Jameson). Currently it is advertised as the largest selling Irish Pot Still Whisky in the World.

The Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength Irish Whiskey is made from a mash of Malted and unmalted barley which is triple distilled in copper pot stills and aged in first fill Olorosso sherry casks. The spirit is non-chill filtered and bottled at 57.2% alcohol by volume.

red-beast-cask-strength-sam_3021In the Bottle 5/5

The Cask Strength Red Breast Single Pot 12 Year Irish Whiskey arrives in the long-necked squat green bottle shown to the left. To add a little pizzazz to the presentation an attractive plum and beige display box houses the whiskey.  The display box and the bottle label contain a plethora of information about Single Pot Still Whiskey (and this particular whiskey) and the Red Breasted Robin for which the brand is named. The fonts and the colour scheme are easy to read, and the long-necked bottle is topped with a cork seal. I love everything about this whiskey presentation.

In the Glass 9.5/10

When poured into my glass I see the whiskey has a nice copper tone. I happened to look at the cork and saw that the whiskey had left a reddish stain, no doubt the sherry cask is influencing the colour of the whisky and the cork. When I tilted the glencairn and gave it a slow twirl, I saw that the crest which formed at the top of the oily sheen inside the glass was reluctant to give up any droplets. A few thick leglets formed but most of the crest remained intact.

The initial nose is rich with a combination of puny caramel filled notes of Irish Pot Still Whisky and the more fruity notes of the sherry barrel (cherries raisins, and plums). Oak begins to well up adding peppery spice to the breezes and soon I notice brown sugar toffee and baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon and hints of clove) and orange peel which is quickly turning to marmalade. Malt and cereal grain separate from the oak spice giving me impressions of graham wafers and honey. The breezes above the glass are deeply complex and engaging. Amazingly, at 57.2 % alcohol by volume, the spirit does not seem to carry any overt astringency.

I gave the glass ten minutes to breathe and when I returned the rich scents and smells had continued to grow. The oak and toffee had grown in strength melding together creating an impression of an oaken elixir impregnated with dry fruit and orange marmalade. I cannot wait to take a sip.

In the Mouth  58.5/60

The first sip swamps my palate with oak toffee and spice. The high alcohol strength, which was disguised on the nose, whacks the tonsils and heats the tongue as the whiskey slides by. Yet, I am completely enthralled by the experience. The sherry flavours are bright and complex with ripe cherries, plump raisins and dry plums all dancing merrily in the oak toffee. Alongside are creamy pot still influences, lovely marzipan, sweet malty cereal and robust grain flavours which remind me of honey cover graham wafers.

As I sip, I note a firm rum-like presence as the rich baking spices and vanilla have combined with the light caramel sweetness to bring about a Demerara-like quality to the dram. Although the high alcohol strength threatens to sear my palate, I am reluctant to add any water or ice, as the concentrated flavours of the whisky are almost too good to be disturbed.

I did break down and added a small ice-cube to my glass. The chilling effect of the ice brought forward stronger (and slightly more bitter) oak flavours and muted the sweetness just a tad. The flavour is still outstanding, but I doubt I will add ice again.

In the Throat 15/15

Reviewers of whisky often talk about a long lingering finish. This one is the real deal as the combination of oily pot still whisky and concentrated cask strength flavours ensure that a full 20 minutes after swallowing the whiskey I can still taste its rich goodness. This is about as perfect as the exit can be.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

The Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength Single Pot Still Whisky Irish Whiskey has been lionized by reviewers ever since it debuted several years ago and I am happy to join the chorus. The most impressive feature of the whisky is how well the Irish Pot Still flavours stand up to the contributing flavours of the first fill Oloroso Sherry barrel. Sherry flavours can swamp a whisky burying the nuanced in a storm of dry fruit. However in this particular dram, the Irish Pot Still flavours actually brighten the Sherry notes bringing us lively cherry and raisin flavours which sit alongside the nuance of the Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey.

This is probably the best Sherry Cask Whisk(e)y I have tasted to this point in my whisk(e)y journeys!

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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