Redbreast 12

If you were tasked with finding a decent whisky for under £40 these days, you’d struggle. I mean a good whisky, not one that is just okay. A bottle you’d be really happy to share with people or even just kick back with once in a while. For £40, you get really boring stuff for the most part. Chances are that if it’s an indie Scotch bottling, you’d be looking at some hideously flavourless, pale, fourth-fill cask of a dram these days. The rest just tends to lack complexity.

Irish whiskey tends to fare better at the cheaper end, what with most non-Jameson Irish whiskey pretty much being pumped out of Cooley distillery (and, as we know, sold on by other distilleries or brands under the pretence of it being their own spirit). For budget whiskey, the Cooley stuff is actually pretty decent for what you pay.

And it’s to Ireland we return today, to look at a very common and popular Irish whiskey. Phil recently gave a glowing review of the Redbreast 12 Cask Strength edition – giving it a mighty 9 out of 10. So have a read of that to get some background into Redbreast.

So instead I’ll keep this short and sweet. The Redbreast 12 year old is the entry-level dram in Midleton’s portfolio of single pot still whiskies. It’s been around since the brand relaunched in 1991, and has been aged in Oloroso sherry and Bourbon casks before being bottled at 40% ABV. You can pick a bottle up for around £40, and I’m guessing given this is a basic whiskey there’d be various offers for it around this time of year.

Redbreast 12

Redbreast 12 Year Old – Review

Colour: deep copper.

On the nose: nutty, like crushed cashews, with heather honey, golden syrup and baked apples. With time the sweetness becomes more layered with dried fruits, raisins and sultanas, stewed apples. Slightly vegetative and floral. Barley sugar and rum toft. Simple but effective.

In the mouth: velvety, and a lovely roundedness to it; again nutty, with toffee notes showing. Again just a lovely, flavoursome balance between classic dried fruits and barley sugar, this trade-off between the sour woody (and slightly solvent) notes with the sultanas and dried apricots. Ginger and cloves linger on the impressively long and warming finish. Lots of immediate taste considering the ABV.

Conclusions

There’s lots of nonsense coming out of Ireland at the moment, whiskey of dubious provenance, not to mention plain old boring stuff that’s lived in boring wood and gets palmed of as “approachable” to any new punter, as if they had no taste buds. But, to be honest, you’d do well to find a better Irish whiskey than this for the asking price.

Just a cracking dram. (What I probably need to do next though is compare one to a bottle from 10, 20 years ago…)

Score: 8/10

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Mark

I've written about (and reviewed) whisky for Whisky Magazine, among other publications, and have been a whisky judge for competitions including the World Whiskies Awards. I've done other writing too: several mass market genre novels, a few short stories, including for BBC Radio 4. For my day job (I know, I don't get out much) I work in digital content. Follow me on Instagram.com/maltreview/ or Twitter.com/MaltReview. Generally, my tastes lean towards ex-sherry cask and ex-wine cask influences on the spirit, but I'm not so fussed as long as the whisky's gone into good wood.

  1. Mike Fairless says:

    Hi, thanks for the review. Looking for a tipple for my dad at Christmas. This certainly stands out as one to consider.

    Just a note, I think your image is for the cask strength bottle?
    I searched for the bottle online but was concerned that the label was different. No issue, just a different version of the range. 🙂

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