Redbreast 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey

Redbreast-12YO-SinglePotStill.jpgConsidered by many to be the quintessential expression of the single Irish pot still style, Midleton Distillery's Redbreast 12 year old is named after the European robin; one of the few songbirds who overwinter in Ireland. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the style, it's similar to single malt with a key distinction: the mash must be made from a mixture of malted and un-malted barley distilled in a pot still and, interestingly, the mash may also contain up to 5% of other cereal grains.Traditionally, the whiskey is distilled three times but there is no legal requirement to do so. Like the Scottish single malt definition, there is a geographic requirement that the whiskey must be aged for a minimum of 3 years in a wooden cask, in Ireland, and the resulting bottling must contain only distillate from the same distillery. The story goes that Irish whiskey makers began the practice of mixing malted and un-malted grains in the early 1800s as a reaction against the "English Malt Tax" which imposed a levy on producers based on the amount of malted barley they used. Not only did Irish whisky become cheaper to make but the addition of un-malted barley added some key differences to the flavour profile of the whiskey; namely a creamy texture and a characteristic spiciness.

Redbreast is made using a mixed mash bill of locally sourced malted and un-malted barley that's triple distilled and matured in ex-Sherry casks before being bottled at 40% ABV. 

Nose: Light, delicate, aromas of marzipan, butter cream icing, and a whiff of toasted oak.

Palate: Rich, full-bodied, and bursting with candied fruit flavours all wrapped in a slightly oily textured, thinned, butterscotch sweetness and complemented with a dash of ginger and spice.  

Finish: A rush of warming oaky spice gives way to licorice root and a slightly rubbery-tasting vanilla that stretches far in to the dram's lengthy finish.

Overall: Easy-drinking and food-friendly, Redbreast 12 year old is a benchmark of quality in the Irish whiskey category. I'd be hard pressed to recall how many people I've turned on to Redbreast but, to a person, they've all expressed with similar incredulity: "This is what Irish whiskey tastes like? I never knew it could be so smooth!?" Priced at a reasonable $79.95 in the LCBO and commonly available, Redbreast is a real crowd-pleaser and and is likely to become your next favourite Irish whiskey - if it isn't already! 

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