redbreast 21 years pot still review

Redbreast 21 Years Single Pot Still (2023)

An Irish whiskey staple, Redbreast 21 Years Single Pot Still is the oldest expression in this brand’s range. Made at Midleton Distillery in County Cork, it’s been a staple for many years. And a personal favourite as well, even though I haven’t bought it in a while. I find it’s too expensive now. But that’s an overall whisky problem, not an issue exclusive to Redbreast.

Anyway, Midleton is a fascinating distillery. Originally founded in the 1970s to produce whiskeys formerly made at several different distilleries. They use slightly different distillation practices to produce whiskeys with different distinguishing characteristics. It would be an oversimplification to say that Midleton produces Irish pot still whiskey by triple distillation.

There are three main types of pot still distillates produced at Midleton. Starting with ‘Light Pot’, followed by ‘Medium Pot’ and finally ‘Heavy Pot’. Difford’s Guide explains it well:

“The folk at Midleton refer to each of these Pot Still distillates by a codes. ‘LMP1’ is a light-pot distillate made by cutting from spirit to feints earlier in the run, so not allowing as much feinty flavours into the final distillate. ‘MMP’ is a medium or ‘Mod Pot’ distillate, with variations such as ‘MMP1’ being a distillate with a particular cut of spirit to feints, allowing some feinty flavours within the spirit. ‘MMP4’ is a heavier type of distillate.”

Other special distillates are made at Midleton as well, most famously ‘Traditional Pot Still’, also referred to as ‘Trad Pot’. It was included in Redbreast 10 Years Cask Strength. An anniversary release, it pays tribute to the expression originally sold and marketed by W&A Gilbey, a wine and spirits merchant in Dublin at the turn of the 20th century.

As far as the Redbreast 21 Years, I’m not sure what type (or types) of Midleton distillate is used. It’s likely a mixture of two or more of Midleton’s single pot still styles. Whichever the case, what’s most important is how it tastes.

redbreast 21 years pot still

Redbreast 21 Years (46%, OB, 2023)

Nose: Distinct yet subtle notes of aniseed, tobacco and even cough syrup. But it’s the sweet and fruity notes that stand out. Think Acacia honey, jammy apricots and caramel. Maybe some pineapple and raisins too, as well as a gentle floral touch and a hint of cardboard.
Taste: Lovely fruits alongside oak spices. There’s mango, green bananas and passion fruit, as well as a hint of lychee. The slight aniseed-y, menthol-esque quality returns, which I tend to associate with Redbreast anyway. Nutmeg, cumin and cracked black pepper corns as well.
Finish: Medium length. Lingering spices, green olives and burlap, as well as some dried fruits.

Despite my notes, I'd say this is less fruity than I remember it being. Spices play a more prominent role, although never take the lead. The Redbreast 21 Years remains a singular spirit nevertheless. A style all its own, even with other Irish pot still whiskey hitting the market in recent years.

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