Redbreast 12 Years Cask Strength (2013)
It’s likely you’re aware Irish whiskey is booming. The category has been around for centuries, but the current industry is relatively young — most of its producers have only been around for a limited number of years. It’s a steep learning curve for many and there have been some growing pains, especially when it comes to sourced whiskey.
However, over the decades there have been a few constants in Ireland, almost all of them produced at Midleton Distillery. The most famous brand is Jameson, the most lauded is likely Redbreast. While there has been criticism on the regulations for Irish single pot still whiskey and how it might favor the methods of Midleton and Irish Distillers, Redbreast has almost singlehandedly kept Irish pot still whiskey from vanishing. Since the 1980s it has been the standout whiskey in that category.
It’s great to see that new producers like Dingle and Teeling have released their own Irish single pot still whiskey in recent years — they provide some much needed fresh blood. But for now there’s no brand that can provide to the high quality of Redbreast. So today I’m looking at an absolute staple and whiskey that everybody should at least try once: the Redbreast 12 Years Cask Strength.
Redbreast 12 Years Cask Strength (59.9%, OB, 2013)
Nose: This reminds me as much of bourbon as it does of pot still Irish whiskey. It’s probably the spices and pronounced triple sec notes, accompanied by a big whack of vanilla. Faint notes of rye, as well as a touch of glue and peaches.
Taste: Syrupy, but now we’re pretty much in grain whisky territory. There’s big orange notes, a good amount of oak and spices and a bit of espresso, but also caramel, vanilla and apple. At the back of palate a more pronounced sherry cask influence reveals itself.
Finish: Lingering spices, caramel and apple.
A good whisky, but it’s a bit too uncompromising and powerful to my taste and while I haven’t reviewed any of the core range here, I’d rather pour myself the 15-year-old, while the 21-year-old is on another level (and price) entirely.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.