The Irish itch struck me tonight! My good friends Gloria and PJ recently gifted me a bottle of this so it was fresh on my mind. I gave the website a quick search for Irish and amazingly I haven't given this bottle the spotlight it deserves... so we will rectify this tonight.
This has traditionally ranked fairly high on my Irish scale when I've done head to heads, but we'll give it a 'reset button' and a fair shake in a fresh glencairn (I had to switch from the glass I took home from Ireland, as the nose felt distinctly muted compared to what I am used to on a glencairn glass). Let's dive in.
Company on Label: Pernod Ricard (Distilled at Midleton Distillery)
Whiskey Type: Irish Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: 100% Malted and Unmalted Barley
Age: 12 Years
Further identification: This is a readily available flagship release from the Redbreast line; it's a traditional Midleton triple distilled Irish whiskey 'matured in the finest oak casks'
Nose: Up front there's a silky traditional sugar cookie on the nose. There's big confectioner's sugar alongside vanilla and flashes of fun, funky oak. Light cherry skins dance on the surface of the liquid below. There's a chocolate-laden crispy wafer aroma that I'm really loving. Soft hints of caramel and toffee elegantly lift up on deeper inhales. There's a sweet floral perfume aroma that really draws my attention in. The lightness that the low proof gives off here is actually a positive for me; it's a bit tantalizing and it reminds me of the uncertainty of young love. It really embodies one of the most perfect Irish aroma whiskey profiles I think anyone could craft. As much as I love my high proof bourbons, this nosing experience delivers the perfect medley of soft almond, jackfruit, and lemon forward Fresca (the old recipe). It takes me back to big family backyard barbecues in the Summers when I was a kid. I think it's time for a sip.
Coming back to the nose after having a few sips I find that the oak aromas are much more prevalent as they give off a soft level of refinement you typically will get out of this age statement region. I find small flashes of leather, black pepper and level, earthy undertones. I can't ignore the sweet fruit medley and floral notes in the background but they're rather non-descript or secretive as I may have alluded to earlier. There's a faint bourbon characteristic to the oak I find late in the glass, but it's not trying too hard to be something it's not. There's hints of smoke, mossy earth and a faint metallic characteristic near the bottom of the glass. The empty glass smells of rose petals, grenadine and faint charcoal.
Palate: Immediately on the palate I find a lovely creamy texture that hits my tongue. Those beautiful pot stills produce such lovely oily, rich, viscous mouth feels. It carries hints of grapefruit, caramel butter bars and chocolate puff pastries. Another sip unlocks big flashes of sherry, ripe dark cherry, and an enrichment of the chocolate pastry-style dessert flavors. The linger feels short but I think that's more of a deceiving artifact of the low proof as the caramel, minty grapefruit and confectioners sugar continue to dance around on the taste buds for quite some time without any of the sensation indicating that you may be consuming alcohol here. I continue to find the feeling of being around loved ones as I sip through this glass. Perhaps it's just me being a touch nostalgic with the style of whiskey that first captured my attention, but I'm certainly not looking to get rid of this glass any time soon. The linger is incredibly long as the mouth coating sticks with you allowing for a little sip to really go a long way. As I get lower in the glass the creamy caramel and sugar cookie notes really ramp up in intensity and some of the more nuanced fruit fall by the wayside. This feels like a great glass to savor and share one of, but might not draw you in for a 2nd or 3rd pour necessarily. My last taste is a larger sip and swish. With that I find troves of caramel, bits of molasses, a soft sizzle of lemon, and a pervasive wave of vanilla toffee cookies. Lovely, lovely all the way through - this is an exceptionally crafted Irish whiskey.
This is one of my all time favorite Irish whiskeys. It is also just an unbelievable value and exudes marvelous elegance every step of the way. I have a Redbreast 21 I have yet to crack open and it's very clear that that bottle is going to have some really big shoes to fill. I want to thank Gloria and PJ again for gifting me a bottle of this! You chose damn well!