Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Review / Redbreast 10 years old

This whiskey is a limited edition one-off bottling by the Irish single pot still brand of Redbreast. It has been released to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Irish Distillers resurrecting Redbreast back in 1991. The Redbreast 10 years old features three different pot still whiskeys distilled at the Midleton distillery in Co.Cork and they have been matured in ex-Oloroso sherry casks for between 10 and 15 years. It has been created by Billy Leighton, the Master Blender for Redbreast, and Blender Dave McCabe. The packaging features a retro design that draws inspiration from when the 10 years old was last on the market in the 1950s and 60s.

The first documention of Redbreast as a brand came in 1912 with a poster for Redbreast JJ Liqueur. The name refers to the robin and was a nickname given to the whiskey by the Chairman of the W & A Gilbey whiskey company, who was a keen bird watcher. The brand is currently owned by Irish Distillers and is produced at the Midleton distillery in Co. Cork. This core range features age statements at 12, 15, 21 and 27 years of age, plus 12 years old Cask Strength and Lustau Edition.
"Since 1991, Redbreast has gone from strength to strength to become the largest selling single pot still Irish whiskey in the world. The fascinating and rich history gave us the opportunity to praise the iconic sherry influence on the range for this limited edition for The Birdhouse." 
Dave McCabe.
Redbreast 10 years old is bottled at its natural cask strength of 59.1% ABV and is exclusive to members of The Birdhouse, the club for Redbreast fans, until sold out. A bottle will cost €100 and they are limited to just two per person. To order yours now - click here.
Our tasting notes
The colour is deep gold and the nose is rich and sweet, but with underlying savoury aromas. Vanilla and honeycomb lead the way and are followed by red apple, raisin, sultana, candied orange peel and a hint of tropical fruit. There are further aromas of caramelised almonds, toasted oak and earthy spices (think of white pepper and nutmeg especially). Hints of dried tobacco leaf, old leather and eucalyptus contribute to the underlying savoury feel.

On the palate this whiskey is equally as full-on. The woody notes and earthy spices strike first now - the toasted oak, pepper and nutmeg from the nose are joined by notes of roasted walnut, cinnamon and drying tannins. Then comes the much needed sweetness and this drives the richness and gives a velvety and less spiky texture. Dried fruits (raisins, sultanas, currants, fig and candied orange) mingle with caramel, toffee, fresh honeycomb and golden syrup. These are accentuated by a hint of citrus oil (orange again, plus pink grapefruit). The oak and earthy spices return, plus a suggestion of marzipan and menthol even later.

The high strength suggests the addition of water. Even just a few drops softens the whiskey dramatically. The oaky and spicy notes are dampened and the fruity characteristics particularly come to the fore. Red apple, peach and juicy apricot are now evident. Either way, the finish is long and ends finally with a hefty crack of pepper.

What's the verdict?

Redbreast's blenders have created a cracker here to celebrate the brand's 30th anniversary since its rebirth. They have re-imagined what the whiskey could have been like when it was last available 60+ years ago. Of course we will never be able to know if this is what Redbreast was like back then, but who really cares? 
This 10 years old at cask strength is a fine whiskey that delivers on all levels. It has a great nose and is packed with layers of flavours, before giving a warming and long finish. We have seen some moaning about the price, but this is a limited edition at high ABV and is an exclusive one-off. We say grab one while you can, before it is all gone.

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