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Monday, March 16, 2020

Redbreast 27 year old, batch B1/19

Since some of us are shut in our homes with our children during this St. Patrick's Day Week, I elected to keep us buoyant with All Kinds of Redbreast. Five days, Five RBs.

It seems as if Midleton (and Pernod Ricard) have suddenly embraced the ultra-luxury market after seeing scotch's success. There are now 20+, 30+, 40+ year old cask strength pot still whiskies flashing through the markets. Redbreast 27-year-old sells for $500 and up, sitting at the base of this new category's price spectrum.

The marketing material focuses on the whiskey being "enriched by Ruby Port Casks". To get the real(?) scoop, one will have more luck reading this Master of Malt blog post. The highlights:
What we have here is a combination of four cask types: first-still[sp] bourbon and refill bourbon, first-fill oloroso sherry casks and first-fill ruby Port pipes”...
...Today, Irish Distillers now imports between 40-60 European oak 500 litre port pipes annually. The wood is medium-toasted and seasoned with red wine for approximately 12 months before ruby Port is added for approximately 12 months. [Head of maturation Kevin] O’Gorman explained that the process was a response to “the challenge of seasoning Port. If you put it into a virgin oak cask, you’re going to get a major wood contribution. One of the techniques we figured out right from the start was that we needed to take some of these tannins and wood compounds out from the start,” O’Gorman explains.
I like that their head of maturation actually wants to reduce "major wood contribution", taking some "tannins and wood compounds out from the start". That sounds almost scandalous in the modern whisk(e)y era. Time to find out if he was successful.

The times
Distillery: Midleton
Brand: Redbreast
Region: Cork, Ireland
Type: Single Pot Still
Age: minimum 27 years
Maturation: first-fill and refill bourbon casks, first-fill oloroso sherry casks and first-fill ruby Port pipes (see above for more details)
Outturn: 528 bottles
Batch: B1/19
Alcohol by Volume: 54.6%
Chillfiltered? ???
Color added? ???
(from a bottle split)

The nose begins with mango, grapefruit, newspaper print and wheatgrass. Then cantaloupe and yellow peaches. The fruit notes grow muskier with time, and are then joined by hints of white chocolate and dunnage. It's reminiscent of old Longmorn and older cognac. Oak spice hits the palate first, then is trampled by gorgeously tart fruits, reflecting the nose's tropicals, citruses and stones. Then come the roses and an intensely mineral white wine. Salt appears after 45 minutes, as do mint leaves and Werther's Originals, but it never loses that vigorous tartness. The finish is loaded with mango, grapefruit and lime juices. Roses and butterscotch pudding. A hint of peach pit.

DILUTED TO ~50%abv, or >½ tsp of water per 30mL whiskey
The nose remains similar. Maybe some brighter fresh stone fruit notes. Some toffee. Guava rather than mango. A new fresh herbal note jumps with the palate's tart fruits. Thyme, rosemary, cardamom, lemons and grapefruits. A pop of chile heat, a spoon of cherry jam. The cherry note joins the tropical fruit and limes in the finish, underscored by that peach pit bitterness.

This is fabulous. Its price made me want to hate it, but it's just too freaking lovable. Kristen took a sip and then said, "More." It's all about the fruits and the herbs and flowers and the minerals, rather than fortified wines or vanilla. As I mentioned in my nosing notes, this Redbreast reminded me of other gracefully matured spirits of even greater ages. Impressive cask management here. I'm going to say the Midleton crew was successful.

Availability - US and Europe
Pricing - $450 - $650
Rating - 92