...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Redbreast Small Batch A

Though Irish was my first whisk(e)y love, I stopped paying attention to that category at least five years ago. It's not because it became popular, rather none of Midleton's one or two dozen new inventions sounded remotely interesting, and I was uninspired by Cooley/Teeling's regular output.

As a result of this behavior, I missed out on four cask strength actual-small-batch releases by Redbreast, the one brand I always enjoy. And by "actual" I mean there were a total of 1000 bottles between the four batches. These bottles were split between eleven retailers in San Francisco, San Diego and Boston. All four were 14 or more years old and a mix of bourbon and oloroso casks.

Thankfully I was able to get in on a bottle split and try all four side-by-side.

First up, Batch A...

Distillery: Midleton
Brand: Redbreast
Region: Cork, Ireland
Type: Single Pot Still
Age: at least 14 years
Maturation: bourbon casks and oloroso sherry casks
Batch: A
Bottled for: Julio's Liquors and Redstone Liquors
Outturn: 252 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 58.6%
Chillfiltered? ???
Color added? ???
(from a bottle split)

The first thing I notice about the nose is that it's very "scotch", like a late-teenage first-fill bourbon barrel Speyside. Butterscotch and oak spice, rather than vanilla. White nectarines, lychee candy and pencil shavings. Hints of blossoms and dried apricot. There's very little heat in the palate, considering the ABV. There's oak spice, fresh ginger, halvah, honey, Cara Cara oranges and a creamy vanilla note. After 30ish minutes the whiskey is all ginger+honey+oak spice. The finish follows a similar pattern. Oranges, honey, almonds, ginger and caramel.

Per Whisky Advocate, Batch A is described as "wood-driven". While I agree, the whiskey is more rounded and pleasing than the sound of that phrase. It trends towards toasted spices (as noted repeatedly) rather than sawdust, tannins and capital "V" Vanilla. The honey and oranges are also a nice touch. It's a modern, undemanding but tasty whiskey, something that will appeal to casual single malt scotch fans. Those looking for vibrant sherry casks will have to look elsewhere....

Availability - US of A
Pricing - it was $100
Rating - 85