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Redbreast is a long-standing Irish brand, dating back to 1903 when Gilbey's, a wine merchant, marketed their Jameson distillate as Redbreast due to the reddish colour imparted by Gilbey's maturation in sherry casks (which they had in abundance.) Irish Distillers have kept the brand alive, altering the recipe and shifting it to a single pot still recipe, distilled at Midleton. Redbreast has grown in stature and importance mostly through simple word-of-mouth. The 12 Year Old is a mixture of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks from Jerez (I believe Oloroso.)
Also, my math has been off - my original "Four Days To St. Paddy's Day" review of Teeling should have read "Three Days To St. Paddy's Day" and of course, "Two Days" for the following two Kilbeggan posts. I have no excuse for this moronic oversight.
The colour is a rich coppery reddish-gold. On the nose, juicy barley, rich sherry, rum-raisin, baked apples and cinnamon. Cadbury Fruit-And-Nut. Water brings out tropical fruit, malt and minty notes.
On the palate, more fruity pastry with cayenne pepper. Black liquorice, macadamia and 70% dark chocolate. Mouth-wateringly delicious, with rock solid pot-still character. Water makes everything a little spicier and even more chocolatey.
The finish is meaty, sherried, luscious, and mouth-watering, with late-arriving grape and dark chocolate. I've had this before (at an Irish pub many years ago) and it is no surprise to me that my rating is exemplary. Irish pot still is one of my favourite whiskey expressions (I share this love with Jim Murray, who scores this a 96) I scored the 15 Year Old a 90, and I score this even higher (then again, if I tasted them side-by-side, who knows what I might score? But alas, that is impossible as my father chugged the last of my 15 Year Old before I could even muster a protest.) My tasting notes above may be simple (due to it being almost midnight) but they are no less exemplary. I'm tasting this side-by-side with two other Midleton offerings: Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old (which I scored an 87 in November), a blend whose pot still character shines through, though with a little more balsamic and spice; and the 2009 Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve, a darker, more robust blend which features more spice and port-pipe richness with that clean, sharp pot still character. These three side-by-sides reinforce my feeling that Irish whiskey is not appropriately appreciated by most of the whisky connoisseurs I know.