Redbreast Small Batch Cask Strength Irish Whiskey Review
It's day 3 of Irish week and I am back baby! Fingers crossed we don't lose this review like we lost the Blue Spot write up I did! All this week I will be running a giveaway on my Instagram where you will have the chance to win a bottle of Green Spot Irish whiskey or 4x 2oz samples of 4 bottles of your choosing that I drink this week! There will be 5 total days of nothing but Irish whiskey reviews from me as part of this; keep participating every day to increase your odds. If you want a boatload of bonus entries make sure to drop a comment on this webpage with your Instagram handle and your favorite Irish whiskey you want to see reviewed (or just some love)! As a special thank you to my website subscribers, each of these comments are worth 10x more than an Instagram tag!
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On the 17th @amongstthefernsco and I will be tasting through just about everything we have, so stay tuned for a big finale. Now, let's see what cask strength Irish whiskey does to me tonight!
Company on Label: Pernod Ricard (Distilled at Midleton Distillery)
Whiskey Type: Finished Irish Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: 100% Malted and Unmalted Barley
Age: NAS (~9-10 years)
Further identification: This one-off release from Redbreast that carries the label "Batch No. B1/19" likely an omen of future batches that inevitably got squashed by COVID - as this whiskey took until 2021 to get released in the US (exclusively, as far as I know). The whiskey starts its finishing timeline in bourbon and sherry casks but gets an extra 70 days of finishing in Oloroso Sherry butts. It was a rather expensive release which might be why you are here looking for a review of it!
Nose: Yum. The nose starts very traditional for an Irish whiskey with light, bountiful sugar cookie notes and a soft, buttery consistency in the nose. Woah a second, deeper inhale definitely shows off the extra proof. It's interesting to note this comes out at the same proof as Blue Spot... There's a clear dustiness and funkiness to this. Dried citrus fruits are very light, but present on the back end of a draw. Buttercream frosting parts slowly into a vanilla base and then falls suddenly into black pepper. Mmm, there's a nice, crisp floral sweetness on this as well that doesn't come off too hot. I'm actually quite impressed that this has so far managed to take what a good Irish whiskey is supposed to do and cranked it up a bit in intensity. Ah - now tilting the glass a bit side to side I can finally find some of the fruit that the sherry casks & butts should have imparted. Oh, oh my - there's a distinct Choco Taco (the ice cream) vibe to this now. Don't let your proof nostril get too close to this though as 117.4 on an Irish comes off a bit more intense than you'd expect. I get much more barrel influence on this than anything else; it's quite dry in the nose with a dusty feel and loads of typical oak spice. Time for a sip to see if we can open this up.
After a sip a distinct metallic note that reminds me of barrel hoops shows up but doesn't last long as a beautiful caramel note takes over. Wow, I was beginning to get a bit disappointed in this glass until very close to the end when the sweet factory just turned their lights back on. I get a blueberry pie smell, prune sweetness and a light, earthy oak bark. The empty glass smells of soft molasses, sawdust, smoke, a hint of minty licorice, fig and pear.
Palate: Coffee ice cream leads the way on the palate with a chocolate buttercream linger. It drinks quite easy with your traditional oily mouth coating keeping any potential ethanol bite off the surface of your tongue. Sleek, creamy orange pound cake comes off delectable yet very soft. Another sip builds more creamy tones, but I struggle to really draw a lot of flavor from this release so far overall. For me tonight there's just the creamy start, the spicy crescendo, and then a pulsing, proofy wave of vague sugary desserts. Introducing a little air during a sip increases the vanilla characteristic but also brings a big wave of spice that carries allspice, nutmeg and almond. If you really dig on the palate, a touch of strawberry and peach can be found. My last sip is soft again with creamy vanilla once again leading the way and a short linger of strawberry cereal and sweet coffee creamer.
There may be good reason most Irish whiskeys are bottles near 92 proof... At 117.4 (and with some bourbon barrel aging going on) I'm too closely reminded of a plain bourbon itself; something that I would reach for if that was my hankering. I also was not quite impressed with the relative lack of complexity of this - something that other cheaper releases of Redbreast can accomplish handily. I still liked all the flavors this glass threw at me, I just wish there were more of them for a whiskey of this caliber. It started really promising on the nose, but as whiskey is meant to be drank I have to bump this down to a middle-of-the-road 3, which (per my scale) means it's decent. I can go either way on it. I will say it's surprisingly crushable despite the proof, so be warned!
I'll certainly continue to explore, learn and enjoy this bottle and I recommend you give it a try for yourself too if you can.