It's no secret that I'm an Irish whiskey fan. I drank this class of whiskey for most of my adult years, before stumbling head first into bourbon, rye and malt whiskies. The Redbreast line has long been the beacon of quality, the gold standard, or the top of the food chain for Irish whiskey to me. The lovely buttery pot still whiskey that comes out of Midleton distillery is amongst the finest in the world. Layer in Pedro Ximénez sherry hogsheads for a finishing cask and you've got some of the most careful craftsmanship involved from start to finish. It seems that those utilizing Midleton's stocks have caught wind of this... Perhaps they read my reviews. What I am hearing from retailers and distributors alike is that just about everything Midleton Irish whiskey is set to take a pretty significant price hike in late 2023, early 2024. I personally hope they go ahead and ruin a good thing with greed, and continue to make accessible, delicious whiskey for that everyone can enjoy.
Redbreast self-describes the choice for targeting a Single Pot Still Irish whiskey, saying:
For more than a century Redbreast has stayed true to the Irish Pot Still whiskey making tradition. Today it is considered to be the definitive expression of this quintessential style of Irish whiskey making – a living legacy.
Single Pot Still Whiskey has been safeguarded and nurtured under the watchful eye of the Midleton Distillery for almost two hundred years. And Redbreast is proudly considered the definitive expression of this Single Pot Still art.
The PX Edition was a new release to the Redbreast lineup that first came around in 2021. I've reviewed this release before, but it seems to have come out in a wave just once per year since then. Given that I know how fickle barrels of whiskey and wine can be year to year, I took it upon myself to get a new bottle to make sure that you, my dear reader, are as well informed as you can be. Let's dive in and see if this is any different than the previous two years.
Company on Label: Pernod Ricard (Distilled at Midleton Distillery)
Whiskey Type: Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: 100% Malted and Unmalted Barley
Further identification: The PX Edition of the Iberian Series features triple distilled single pot still whiskey that is matured in bourbon and oloroso sherry casks before being finished in PX hogsheads; the 2023 release is now available at an ever-rising MSRP of ~$90
Nose: On raising the glass to my nose I find sweet vanilla buttercream frosting. Another deep inhale shows off raisin and mulled wine aromas. The smell of classic Midleton sugar cookie can be pulled out fairly easily as well. Hints of anise roll in the undulating undertones. Fans of malt whisky will certainly find something to love here. Rolling the glass towards my right nostril produces the warm bakery tones I've come to love on Irish whiskey alongside some graham cracker and dry dirt aromas. Mmmh. Everything about this whiskey is so comfortable at this proof while still delivering great volume of aroma. Deep inhales on my left nostril show off bountiful woodshop tones and delicate fruit. Bringing everything back together shows off wonderful nougat, soft cranberry and finally a hint of cherry skins. Time for a sip.
Ooh, returning after a sip and swirl of the glass I find a lot more pungent oak and earth scents. Oh my, there is the sherry influence. I find a lot of great parallels to some of the sherry bombs from the top of the Glendronach lineup. Black pepper hits the nostrils before a creamy wave washes over behind it. My goodness - coming back after a long rest I find just beautiful, rich, high-quality coffee aromas. A barista's masterpiece, this smell slowly fades from this pinnacle example of the beautiful ephemerality of pot still whiskey. Rich buttery tones build well late in the glass. Butterscotch, browned butter and molasses slowly uncover a hidden underground bunker filled with dark aromas that fade into sterility. The malted portion of the mash bill shines through late in the glass with milk dud and waffle bread tones. The empty glass smells of french toast and other breakfast diner aromas. What a wonderful dram to spend an afternoon with.
Palate: Oooh, that drinks wonderfully light right from the get go. Raisin bread and raspberry cheesecake land delicately on the tongue. The mouthfeel is on the thinner side, but the linger is immediately well fortified and long with notes of blackberry jam. A larger sip and swish reveals sugar coated strawberries, orange marmalade and lovely bakery tones. The finish is like mint chocolate chip ice cream with that beautiful peppermint tone pairing perfectly with slivered almonds. Yum. Working deeper into the glass I finally begin to find the wonderful fruit depth that I've come to know and love on this release. Raspberry dominates the foreground while strawberry, apricot and pear dance in the background. Caramel sits calmly in the delicately undulating linger. I feel a great peach sweetness that sticks up in my gums. My last sip is perfectly delicate with peach preserves, orange sherbet and creamy vanilla all slowly riding off into the distance, never quite out of sight or mind. Yum!
TL;DR: Elegant, refined and layered Irish whiskey
This years release doesn't sing like the previous two years in quite the same way, perhaps by some virtue of attempting to scale. I'm not sure about exact bottle release numbers, but I know I was staring at 7 cases at Burlington Wine & Spirits in MA when the 2023 edition released and I recall it was hard to find one or two bottles of the 2021 back when it first released. So it does seem anecdotally that Redbreast is trying to get this out to more people, perhaps to satisfy some of the increased demand following my last two perfect scores. Unfortunately this release seems to have taken a step in the wrong direction. Some of the magical depth and evolution is there, but not to the same level as my previous two dances with this wonderful whiskey. The PX influence feels lighter than previous years for sure. Perhaps this needs a little more time to oxidize - something that has really improved a Redbreast Lustau bottle that I had for quite a while. All that said, the new notes it introduced (namely that effervescent experience with the chocolate chip ice cream flavors on the palate) were enough to make this a thoroughly delicious whiskey I will be glad to enjoy this Winter. This is great whiskey to explore patiently & slowly.
You might be wondering how to tell which year your bottle is from now that you know there's a slight difference year to year. If you look on the back of your bottle there is a lot code you can use to determine when it was bottled (which is approximately when it was released). Near the bottom of the back label you will see a brown section with the letter "L" and some numbers. The "L" just stands for lot and the numbers indicate the year and date of bottling.
For our primary goal here, you'll want to pay extra attention to the first 4 digits after the L. The first digit after the L is the last number of the bottling year, so if your code reads L3XXXXXXXX, you have a 2023 bottling. If your code reads L2XXXXXXXX you have a 2022 bottling, and so on.
If you're still interested in nerding out with me, I wrote about the rest of the digits in my full write up on Reading and Understanding Redbreast Bottle Laser Codes / Lot Codes.
Also releasing at around the time of writing in 2023 is a Tawny Port Cask Edition from the Iberian Series. I'll compare these briefly here.
At first sip of the Tawny Port... There's no competition. The PX is significantly better. The Tawny Port edition has no volume, depth or character really at all. There's nothing better than an okay whiskey to really make a good whiskey shine next to it. The PX punches right in the same weight class as the batch 3 edition of the Redbreast 27 Year Ruby Port release. The next batch of the Redbreast 27 year is supposedly going to take the most significant price hike of any of the line, so make sure you find a suitable replacement soon.