By Richard Thomas
When Barry Crockett retired as Master Distiller for Irish Distillers in 2013 after 47 years with the company, his principal legacy was preserving the distinctly Irish style of pot still whiskey. Yet it was not until relatively modern times, albeit still under Crockett’s tenure, that the same Cork County distillery that has Jameson as its bread and butter committed to pushing single pot still whiskey. When it did, it was with Redbreast 12 Year Old that they made the initial shove.
Prior to Redbreast, if one was one of the very few with an interest in pot still whiskey, the best that could be done was to buy a blend with a higher proportion of pot still, such as Powers or Irishman. Redbreast took international whiskey circles by storm, winning high marks and many, many titles and gold medals. This plus the fact that it is the most widely and readily available expression of its kind make it the single pot still whiskey.
Out of the green glass bottle and into the glass, this 40% abv whiskey has a bright, rich gold coloring, like honey with just the slightest twist of copper in it.
The nose is fruity floral, creamy, and laden with cake spice and caramel, the latter so much so that you could be forgiven for thinking the spirit was aged primarily in ex-bourbon barrels. That would be wrong. Some of it was, but the majority comes from ex-sherry casks.
The palate is thick, smacking of floral citrus sweetness and nuttiness, leaning to marzipan and a touch of sherry-cum-dried fruits. Not so much caramel as before, but plenty of spiciness stirred in to enhance the sweet side of the flavor.
The finish is a long, mild one, despite the heft and full-bodied nature of the scent and taste, making this one of those Irish whiskeys that is perfect for summertime drinking. No ice is necessary, just down it neat.
I don’t rave about Redbreast 12 Year Old the way some people do, but I might have had I discovered it about five or six years earlier than I did. As it is, I just plain like the stuff and would make it a staple if it were only a bit cheaper.
Expect to pay $55 to $60 for Redbreast 12 Year Old in the United States. Across the Atlantic, £39 or €59 is typical.