Redbreast 12-year-old


Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…

Single Pot Still Whiskey is a style of Irish Whiskey made from a mixed mashbill of both malted and unmalted barley, distilled in pot stills at a single distillery. Once the most popular style of whiskey in the world, the biggest-selling brand nowadays is Redbreast, specifically, the Redbreast 12-year-old.

Redbreast was initially created by W & A Gilbey, a wine merchant that originated in London in 1857. By 1861, Gilbey’s had a branch in Dublin and, using whiskey from the Jameson’s Distillery on Bow Street, they created a 12-year-old Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey that would later be nicknamed Redbreast, for its distinctive red hue.

The brand was later acquired by Irish Distillers and production moved to the New Midleton Distillery in Cork. After a relaunch in 1991, the brand has grown to become the biggest-selling Single Pot Still Whiskey in the world. There are several varieties available, including Cask Strength, 15 and 21-year-old expressions as well as the sherry-matured Lustau Edition. The most widely available, however, is the Redbreast 12-year-old.

The whiskey is matured in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks before bottling at 40%. It retails for around £50 in the UK.

*Full disclosure: the sample featured in this review was inside an Advent Calendar that I was given for free. As always, I will strive to give an honest opinion on the dram and the value for money it represents.

Redbreast 12-year-old

Smell: A wee bit bready at first with some baking spice notes. Savoury pastries. Straw. Then some sherry comes in with raisins and sultanas. Runny honey. Toffee biscuits. Peach and apricot. Also green apples and a touch of lemon. Turns fresher with more fruit and grain-forward when water is added.

Taste: Sherry is upfront on the arrival. Currants and sultanas. Honey and toffee. Some gingery spice. Dark chocolate. Touch of coffee. A wee grainy note. Decent weight on the palate.

Thoughts: There’s quite a lot going on and each element sits nicely together in the glass. Water seemed to kill the arrival a little and toned down the intensity of the flavour. The transition from start to middle to end became more fluid and, dare I say it, smoother. However, the undiluted experience, albeit not as polished, was arguably more exciting. I enjoyed its boldness, even if new notes arrived somewhat awkwardly. Good balance overall though – neither grain nor oak dominates. Evenly poised between spirit and cask.

Price: £50. There’s lots of competition at this level of pricing but it’s undoubtedly a good dram. I don’t think it would become a regular purchase at that price, but I’d maybe pick up a bottle sometime to get to know it a little better.

For more on Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey visit

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