Apologies if this review is longer than usual.
I'm a history teacher by trade. Since I majored in history, I tend to be "that guy" any time I read historical fiction or watch a period drama on tv or on the big screen. I can suspend my disbelief most of the time and enjoy a "creative" telling of a historical event, such as the Zack Snyder fantasy-action film 300. I don't have the time or energy to outline all the historical inaccuracies in Braveheart or Kingdom of Heaven here, but I suppose we shouldn't be looking to Hollywood for history lessons.
Queen Elizabeth I has been represented many times on film, and I think the most accurate representation of her temperament and personality was Dame Judi Dench's portrayal in Shakespeare In Love. While many viewers might prefer Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth or Elizabeth: The Golden Age, historians have criticized the two films starring Blanchett for portraying the Tudor queen as flighty or easily manipulated by the men around her. Hint: she wasn't. Elizabeth was intelligent, clever, insightful, witty, and had a fiery temper. Most of her contemporaries couldn't predict her actions or her intentions, much less control them.
I've found the same type of phenomenon in discussions with fans of Redbreast. Just about everyone seems to adore Redbreast 12 Year Old, but fewer appreciate Redbreast's 15 Year Old expression. I've heard all kinds of reasons for this preference, from the price difference (which is fair) to the difference in flavour profiles. Some have said Redbreast 15 isn't as smooth as Redbreast 12, but if you know me at all, you'll know that smooth isn't something I look for in a whiskey. In fact, when someone describes a whiskey as smooth, I'm hesitant to buy it. Water is smooth; whiskey should let you know you're drinking something stronger. Calling a whiskey smooth is akin to telling me I have a great personality: you may think it's a compliment, but it's not really something I want to hear. And in the case of my "great personality" it's also completely untrue.
Redbreast 15 Year Old is bottled at a higher abv than Redbreast 12, which might explain why the latter is more popular. The 15 Year Old is bottled at 46% abv, it is chill-filtered, and has added caramel colouring. I wish it was presented unchill-filtered and at its natural colour, but I won't let those details prevent me from buying a whiskey.
March 4 2020 Neat from a Brilliant Highland Glass
- Nose: classic Single Pot Still spiciness, herbal, Thai lime leaves (for real, I promise), orange zest, figs, brown sugar, a touch of butter
- Palate: rich and oily, dark fruits (figs, raisins, and plums), a bit peppery, becoming a touch waxy, hard caramel candies
- Finish: long and warming, more dark fruits, cinnamon, caramel sauce, a touch of citrus returning, perhaps a hint of high quality, fruity olive oil. The tail end keeps the sweetness from becoming cloying. Wonderful.
- Initial Rating: 91/100
April 24 Neat from a Canadian Glencairn
- Nose: spicy with pepper and cloves, herbal, oranges, figs, toffee, butter
- Palate: rich and full-bodied, creamy texture, dark fruit (figs, dates), flax seeds, caramel, a touch of cinnamon, a bit of fennel, black pepper
- Finish: long and warming, with caramel, butter, cinnamon, some citrus near the very end, and then a pleasant touch of orange zest bitterness (Very subtle)
- Final Rating: 91/100
All subsequent tastings revealed similar notes. This bottle didn't really change much with time and air exposure. I can safely say that I've never tasted a Redbreast I didn't enjoy. While many enthusiasts prefer Redbreast 12 Year Old, I prefer the 15 Year expression. It may not be as easily accessible as the 12 Year, but the 15 Year's vigour and complexity are better suited to my palate. I suppose you could say Redbreast 15 is Dame Judi Dench's Elizabeth whereas Redbreast 12 is Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth. Both have their charms, but I prefer the more fiery presentation.
- Would I accept a glass of this if someone offered me one? Without a doubt
- Would I order this in a bar or pub? Yes
- Would I buy another bottle? Only if I could get it at a better price than it goes for in Ontario.
Great review @OdysseusUnbound . I enjoyed reading it. Very informative!
I need to get a bottle of Redbreast 15. I've heard mixed reviews but can't help think I'd enjoy it. I like the 12 but can't help wishing it had a bit more oomph! I've got a bottle of my 12 CS in my stash which I'll open at some point. Your review makes me want a bottle of the 15.
@Wierdo RB 12 CS is my favourite RB and it’s about $110 CAD (if you can find it). My buddy has co-workers in quite a few US states so when he was down there on business he had locals telling him where to shop. He’s drinking cheaper whiskies these days because he’s not traveling at all and he refuses to pay LCBO prices for just about everything. He sucks it up when it comes to Laphroaig Quarter Cask because that’s one of his favourites, but other than that he’s drinking Canadian whisky in the $30-$50 range.