Redbreast 12 Years Old is a classic expression of Irish whiskey at its most traditional and iconic. If you’ve had your fill of the 12, why not step it up a bit and see what the 15 Year Old has to offer?
Good news: Redbreast doesn’t mess with a winning formula here. All the essential elements of Redbreast 12 are represented in this whiskey, only more.
Like Redbreast 12, this expression is a single pot still offering, made from malted and unmalted barley, triple-distilled, and aged in a combination of first-fill and refill bourbon and sherry casks. Malty and nutty on the nose, the classic notes of honey and nougat are immediate, filtered through some hints of sandy earth, walnut, and toasted coconut. Lightly oaky but far from anything you’d describe as “woody,” the experience offers well-integrated aromatics that let the underlying grain do most of the talking.
The palate is gently sweet, showcasing light notes of apple and banana, then almond and coconut. As with Redbreast 12, the 15 is quite rounded and silky, though there’s a gravity to the whiskey that is clearly enhanced by its significantly higher abv than its little brother. The apple notes, first baked, then fresh green, grow stronger as the finish develops, though this takes a bit of a roundabout trip via notes of sesame, milk chocolate, and a spiced brown sugar-dusted essence of breakfast cereal.
The more I look at my tasting notes for Redbreast 12, the more DNA you see crossing over between the two whiskeys. And that makes sense, of course, because they’re produced the same way — only one is older and higher in strength. Does that extra 3 years merit more than double the price tag? It seems criminal to suggest a 15 year old Irish whiskey is a special occasion dram, but perhaps that’s the world we live in now.