Whisky Reviews

Redbreast 12 Year Old


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I know nothing of what history lays behind this Irish whiskey, in fact I only really know two things about it. The first is that it is the only pure pot still whiskey in production today, and the second that it produced under the infamous Jameson label.

I tasted it for the first time about a month ago while visiting an old friend of mine who recently returned to Scotland after spending a few years working in Ireland. While insisting that he is by no means a convert, he did bring with him a few bottles of Irish favorites, one of which was a 12 year old Redbreast. I have to admit, this whiskey really took me by surprise. I had heard good things before, sure, but by Christ… I was not expecting it to be quite as good as it darn well (and how I hate to say it) is; it’s fantastic!

The complexity its aroma is beautiful, it is almost if though the big man himself had decided to take all that is summer and put it in a bottle. There are so many lovely scents in this drink that I hardly know where to begin, in fact I had to sniff it several times over to ensure that I wasn’t making things up. Generally I will try not to list more than about 5 different scents or flavors for each whiskey but I shall attempt no such limitation here.

A clean and welcoming nose, it presents a unique fruit basket of banana, peach, apricot, pear and something exotic (perhaps passion fruit) as well as vanilla and caramel. It may be that this all sounds a bit too sweet and sickly, but let me assure you that such is not the case. On the palate it is quite oily and again there’s a beautiful combination of fruity flavors ranging from peach to strawberry, but there is also a spicy element and hints of ginger, licorice and nutmeg. The aftertaste is peppery at first, but soon turns into burnt brown sugar.

In some ways, it quite reminds me of the fabulous Rittenhouse Straight Rye. At a mere $45, this is definitely one to add to your wish or shopping list. Well done, Ireland.

Color: Pale gold, Ray of summer sun through a countryside window

Nose: A blissful fruit explosion; banana, apricot, peach, pear, perhaps passion fruit, vanilla and caramel.

Taste: Oily, fruity (as above, but also strawberry), spice, ginger, licorice and nutmeg. Aftertaste of initial pepper, then burnt brown sugar.

Want to buy this whisky? Available in: USA & World (click)UK & Europe (click)

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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  1. Jason's Scotch Whisky Reviews

    December 1, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    It is the best Irish whiskey regardless of price in my opinion. You can twice as much for Jameson 18yrs and be very disappointed given the price point. Bushmills high end bottlings are good, but not better than the ol’ reliable Redbreast!

  2. Wesley

    July 26, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    There is another fairly available Irish pure pot stilled whiskey out there: Greenspot. Not nearly as popular as Redbreast is – you won’t generally find it at your local pub here in the states – but I do not doubt we’ll be seeing more of it due to Redbreast’ growing celebrity. Generally receives even better rating than Redbreast.

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