Redbreast 21 Years Old (2016)
Irish single pot still whiskey is rare, and that’s a shame. It’s a style of whiskey, made from both malted and unmalted barley, that has gone out of vogue in the 20th century. It is slowly regaining some traction, but is still often overlooked, I find.
Redbreast is the biggest selling single pot still whiskey in the world. Which is an accomplishment in itself, although there isn’t a whole lot of competition. There’s Yellow Spot and Green Spot, as well Powers and Midleton. But those last two come from the same distillery as Redbreast does. And then there’s tiny Dingle Distillery, which has released one batch of single pot still so far.
Amongst this small playing field, the Redbreast 21 Years Old is probably the epitome of Irish single pot still whiskey. One that fans of this style should probably at least try once. And if you’re not a fan, please try it too. It is worth it.
Redbreast 21 Years Old (46%, OB, 2016)
Nose: Wonderfully fruity nose, most of them being the tropical kind, with a hint of furniture polish. Mango, pineapple, and mushed bananas. Some good sherry influence as well, with raisins and aceto balsamico, as well as some yeasty bread dough. Lots and lots to like here.
Taste: Oh yes, fruits galore again, mixed with that cough syrupy, spicy quality I only ever find in Irish single pot still whiskey. But those fruits though, so very vibrant. Grapefruit, oranges and mango, accompanied by cloves and nutmeg, as well as some chili heat. Yes!
Finish: Lingering spices, with some sweeter notes mixed in. Long.
Just really, really good. Great balance, wonderful complexity. And a style of whiskey that’s very unique still. With the Irish whiskey renaissance in full swing I hope that more new producers will also adopt this style, but even if they will, it’ll take decades for their product to reach the maturity level of this Redbreast 21 Years Old.
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.