A little over 10 years ago, I was sitting in the Mercer Hotel in Dublin with my family in the early evening, enjoying a drink before we went out to find dinner. Being in Ireland, we were possibly drinking Guinness, definitely drinking Jameson and most likey, if memory serves, and it often doesn’t, someone, probably my step-mom, was drinking Bushmill’s Black Bush. The concierge noticed our whiskies and asked if we knew about Redbreast…which we didn’t. My brother and I suspected violence and crossed our arms protectively around our chests just in case this suave Gaelic stranger were to whip out some sort of ritual paddle and try to give our chiseled chests a mighty whack. As it turns out, violence was not on his mind, just the power of pure pot still Irish whiskey. He introduced us to Redbreast then and there and for the rest of our trip, a bottle of it was never far away. It took several years for Irish Distillers or Pernod Ricard or whoever owns the Redbreast brand to start importing the stuff stateside but it was worth the wait, this is a great whiskey.
Along with Green Spot 8 Year Old Irish Whiskey, Redbreast is a rare, true pure pot still. Distilled from both malted and un-malted barley, Redbreast is aged for at least 12 years in sherry and bourbon casks.
The Nose: A wonderful heat, ripe orange, a little baked fruit…apple cobbler maybe, vanilla and caramel. I might be imagining a faint whiff of sweet pipe smoke as well. There’s a rye-like zing that is really mouthwatering. The pot still gives it a sharpness and a quickness. You know from the moment you put your nose in the glass that this is a strong, lively whiskey.
The Palate: Great, smooth, viscous mouth-feel. A faint wisp of wet stone…then, strength. A baked sweetness and malt notes fly everywhere doing their sharp rye imitation again only to swell into a huge, rich peppery mid-palate blow-up, replete with vanilla, burnt sugar and a faint touch of fruit.
The Finish: Long and strong, that peppery-ness dances on the tongue while all the other flavors march past in a jumbled parade.
Thoughts: For my money, this is the best Irish Whiskey out there. The pot still quality really sets it apart from its Coffey Still-addled brethren. It’s a strong, insistent, incredibly well-balanced, raucous dram. Not to be missed or missing from your cabinet.