Ever since I first heard that Irish Distillers was releasing a cask strength version of their delicious RedBreast 12 year whiskey, I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground for its availability in the US.
For those of you who are die hard Scotch or Bourbon drinkers, read on. This is one Irish Whiskey you don’t want to miss.
Riding high on receiving the Whisky Advocate Award for Irish Whiskey of the Year, shipments of the 115.4 proof, non-chill filtered RedBreast Cask Strength couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I picked up a bottle this weekend for a little under $70 and couldn’t wait to pop it open. My expectations were high, but I didn’t even have a clue what I was in for.
RedBreast is a unique product – not only to the current whisk(e)y market as a whole, but also specifically within the Irish Whiskey category. At the turn of the 20th century, Pot Still Irish whiskey was one of, if not the most popular whiskey in the world. Now, RedBreast is just one of a few Single Pot Still (previously called “Pure” Pot Still) Irish whiskey’s being produced – Green Spot is another – and it’s the only one regularly available in the US market.
As the name implies, Single Pot Still Irish whiskey is made in traditional copper pot stills. The whiskey is triple distilled and is made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley. In general, Single Pot Still whiskeys tend to be a bit more full-flavored, creamy and textually layered than traditional Irish whiskeys. In the case of the whiskey we’re talking about here, this notion is absolutely true.
In the glass, RedBreast 12 Cask Strength is a pale amber gold with green and yellow hues. On the nose an intoxicating and refreshing aroma of rich vanilla and oak, burnt sugar, butterscotch, baking spices and dried fruit. With a touch of water, banana and other tropical fruit aromas come into focus. In the mouth this whiskey is silky smooth with a perfect amount of burn that creates an impeccably well balanced drink.
I almost did a double-take when I first took a sip. Spicy, rich, sweet sherry and oak flavors drip on the tongue as mellow notes of cotton candy, tropical and dried fruits and chocolate seep in. The finish is long, warm and wonderful. A complete and total full-body experience.
I’m not going to beat around the bush, this whiskey is absolutely stellar. Everything about it – and what makes it even more special is that I think any whisk(e)y drinker would appreciate it. It’s got something for everyone – bourbon drinkers, Scotch drinkers, you name it. Where the RedBreast 12 year showed us what a Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey could bring, the cask strength version takes it to a completely new level. Brilliant. 94 points (DrinkInsider Rating).
Check out my review on Red Breast 21.