Class: Irish Single Pot Still
Reviewer: Andrew Owen
I don't consider myself a proof snob. If asked what my preferred whiskey ABV is, I typically tell people around 50% for bourbon or 46% for scotch. One of my favorite whiskies of all time – Highland Park 18 Year – is bottled at 43%. That said, statistical analysis of my hundreds of whiskey rankings have shown that only rarely does a whiskey bottled at 40% ABV (the legal minimum) translate to a great rating from me. No matter how good the flavor is, they almost always lack depth and overall character. This was my experience with the standard 80 proof bottling of Redbreast 12 Year. What about the opposite end of the spectrum? Like I said, I am not an “overproof” fanatic. I don’t automatically go for a whiskey because its cask strength, I think Weller 12 is much better than Old Weller Antique *ducks to avoid bottle zooming at my head*, and I do not find the “burn” that goes along with many popular high proof whiskeys to be all that enjoyable.
So here we are at the cask strength version of Redbreast 12 Year. For a more in depth look at the Redbreast brand, its parent distiller, and Irish whiskey types in general, go take a look at my review of regular Redbreast 12. We’ll get right into the whiskey details here.
- Triple distilled in copper pot stills from a mash of malted and unmalted barley.
- Bottled at natural cask (more accurately, batch) strength (57.4% ABV) without chill filtration or added coloring.
- This bottle is from batch B1/15.
Nose: Heavy toffee and loads of that Irish copper pot still peculiarity (bacon fat and pennies?), with a sweet coconut milk note on the side. There’s a strong ethanol tickle straight out of the bottle, but give this 20 minutes or so to rest in the glass, and it’s for the most part eliminated. A good rest also allows some chewy vanilla, melted butter, and chai spice to make themselves known.
Palate: An absolute flavor bomb! Creamy coconut, malted vanilla, chewy toffee, chai spice, and oily copper. Caramel cream and melted butter show up on the back end. There’s a strong ethanol presence here as well, but the body is so thick, and the flavors so full, that it’s really an afterthought.
Finish: Butter toffee, vanilla, and sweet copper are long lingering making my mouth water for another sip.
Buying Recommendation: Buy it now!!! I cannot overstate how much better, in every single category, this is over the standard 12 year. This is one of the best whiskeys I’ve ever had, period. Which means, for $65-85, this is a steal. After I finished this bottle, I remarked to a friend, “I’d be perfectly okay if this was the only whiskey I could drink for the rest of my life”. To this day, that sentiment is still absolutely true!
The Rating Scale
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: truly exceptional
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