In my protest against the debauchery of St. Patrick’s Day, I waited until after March 17th had passed to review one of my favorite Irish drams – the Redbreast 12 year-old, bottled at its full cask strength. I reviewed the standard Redbreast 12 year last year, and was left wanting more. Having tried a few different batches of the Redbreast at its cask strength, I am quite satisfied. This inculcation of the Redbreast’s single pot still whiskey is aged exclusively in ex-Sherry casks, and is non-chill filtered. This particular review is of Batch B1/12, which comes in at 117.2 proof (58.6% abv).
On the nose, this whiskey is dense with barley, banana peels, dark chocolate, wood sealant, lemon-lime soda, fresh red apples, and some old driftwood. The nose is a unique, funky blend of spirit and cask, only hinting at its lifetime in ex-Sherry wood. The palate reveals the sherried character a little more. It is an oily and full-bodied palate, with notes of red apples, Amontillado and Fino sherry, dark chocolate, white chocolate, raisins, and dried blackberries. The finish is long and warming, with a wonderful combination of sherried character, mocha, vanilla, strawberry, and a soft, oaky woodiness.
Overall, this is a deep and powerful dram that opens up beautifully with a drop or two of water. Not all Irish whiskey is soft and smooth; this one opens up with both barrels, and does not give up easy. It is also delicious and intriguing from start to finish. If sherry-aged Scotch is your thing, give the Redbreast Cask Strength a try, and let it ride. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. My grade: A-. Price: $60-70/750ml. With this only being about $15 more than the standard Redbreast, I’ll go for this one every day of the week.