Redbreast 21 years

"Just an absolutely stunning whisky that will (or should) convince you about this whisky style"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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Since 1912, the Redbreast label has decorated shop shelves, except for a short hick-up between 1985 and 1991 after Irish Distiller’s acquired the brand from Gilbeys Wine & Spirits company. The name was picked by the chairman of Gilbeys, who also was a passionate bird watcher. The perfect combination of sherry and single pot still originates from the times when spirit importers like Gilbeys (and Mitchell & Sons) has plenty of sherry casks lying around. I will also remind you that the 21-years-old dates back to Redbreast’s (and Midleton’s) changing years early in the 90s when instigated by master blender Barry Walsh, Irish Distillers re-designed their wood policy and introduced the many high quality casks that would form the basis of the revival of single pot still Irish whisky. Nowadays, others releases have surpassed the barrier of 21 years. However, any Redbreast above 25 years are not really meant for anyone on a reasonable budget, most of us can only dream about such a purchase (probably that is why these are called “Dream casks”).

Nose

A full-on-fruits sensation with pale sour yellow fruits, accompanied by a slightly chemical aroma. I find scents of orange rasp, a whole array of intermingled spices, among others cinnamon, pink pepper and nutmeg. It has got an incredible balance, despite its power, and it is rather sweet compared to its younger siblings. All kinds of oranges, from zest to juice to fresh parts, with grapefruit joining the party and pineapple liquor. The tropical fruits make place for a more herbal and grain-y side, which bring grasses, straw, rye, mint liquor and a hint of tobacco. There is also the expected liquorice, albeit reasonably late, cough sirup and liquorice liquor. Then it switches back to the tropical fruits and develops into an almost Jamaican rummy wave of rotten fruit esters and dark rum cake, which distantly reminds me of Worthy Park. Mango, papaya, and then we go back to Indian spices, white pepper, cardamon, aniseed and spiced nuts. After a while I get intense scents of red fruits (blackberries, blueberries), in jam form, white chocolate, nuts, good fresh coffee, mocha, dark bread, apple and pear syrup, bourbon, and fruit and coffee liquor. The development of the nose is stunning. A scent bomb in balance.

Taste

A mix of bitters, lots of oranges, and fresh coconut. Then butter and melted marshmallows.  Again this is very well balanced. There is a hint of fruity sweetness, in particular raspberries sweets. At first it slightly fails after the amazing nose with an slightly too present sweetness, but you have to roll this one extensively through your mouth to discover its true secrets. Oh yes, this releases much and much more liquorice now, accompanied by nectarines, peaches, cane sugar and blackberry juice. A delightful fresh pineapple note, accompanied by chocolate, malt, coffee and molasses. A tiny touch of citrus in the back for refreshing purposes. This is surprisingly fresh and very intense in its flavours. Each sip starts with spices, then massive amounts of tropical fruit juice with a very pleasant tangy, slightly drying, but long tropical aftertaste. Add to that some stem ginger, maple syrup, cherries syrup, apple syrup, mocha foam and vanilla-flavoured chocolate sprinkles.

Overall

What a great whisky. The palate tended to disappoint, but only for a while, then the whole show started. The development is truly amazing, the balance is great, the wood is there but not too, the natural ingredients are still to be recognised, the strength works perfectly. I mean, I can go on for while. Just try this at least once. It may be above your budget (at least mine’s), but I think this is worthy the money. If you are not convinced how great single pot still Irish whisky is after this one, then you never will be.

What others say

Whiskybase: 88.91 (82 votes) * Angus MacRaild @Whiskyfun: 89/100 * @Whiskynotes: 90/100 * @Malt-Review: 10/10 * @TheWhiskeyJug: 95/100 * @TheDramble: 91/100
Read for yourself

Big thanks to for sharing the sample!

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
45%
Sweet <-> Spicy
60%
  • Rich spices
  • Orange
  • Liquorice
Nose 91%
Taste 90%
Balance 90%
Depth 92%
Finish 89%
Score