Here’s another review of a widely available official release. This time it’s an Irish whiskey. My track record with Irish whiskey has not been very good. I’ve not had very many and very few of the ones I have had have made me want to have more. I’m sure this is just an accident of random, limited selection. In recent years, a number of older Irish whiskies from independent bottlers have received high ratings from a number of sources. And what is more, they’ve been lauded for their fruity quality—a quality I like very much in Scotch whisky. Unfortunately, I’ve not had any of those whiskies—they don’t come cheap and I don’t really spend large amounts of money on individual bottles any more. Not to mention, these are all European releases and it’s harder and harder to get those sent to the US these days.
Anyway, the Redbreast 15 is certainly easily available here. Though it’s been a while since I’ve last tried it—and I haven’t reviewed it—I quite liked the Redbreast 12; I was less impressed by the cask strength version, which I’ve reviewed twice (here and here). Let’s see what this one is like.
Redbreast 15 (46%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Citrus (between orange and lemon), cream and some dusty oak. After a minute or too the fruit moves somewhere between lime and tart apple and there’s a slight chalky quality as well. Maltier with water and there’s some toffee too now.
Palate: Leads with the fruit—tart at first but then there’s a richer burst as I swallow: peach with some tropical accents. There’s more oak spice on the second sip but the fruit’s still here. Nice, oily texture. Water pushes the oak back but also pushes the fruit back.
Finish: Long. The muskier fruit builds here. At the end there’s a grainy, slightly astringent note. Spicier at the end with water.
Comments: I like this a lot more than the younger Redbreasts I’ve had. The fruitiness is not identical to that found in Speyside and Highlands distilleries in Scotland; the closest analogue I can think of is the musty/funky–>tropical progression in older Littlemills. Unlike older Littlemills, and the aforementioned recent indie Irish whiskies, this has the advantage of being available and affordable. I’d like it more with a little less wood impact, and a little less grassiness—which, I guess, comes from the unmalted barley, but I think I might get a bottle anyway. And I’ll be drinking it mostly without water.
Rating: 87 points.