Like a lot of Irish whiskeymakers, Redbreast is cranking up the innovation engine of late, with new releases largely revolving around finishes of its classic single pot still whiskey. This round, installment #3 in the Iberian series, it’s time for Tawny Port, with non-age-statement Redbreast seeing its first round of aging in bourbon and sherry barrels, then finishing for 9 months in Tawny Port hogsheads from Tacopal Cooperage in Portugal. My love affair with Port is widely documented — and who doesn’t like Redbreast? — so I had high expectations going into this one.
If you like Port, well, you’ll love what Redbreast does with it here.
Nutty and raisin-sweet on the nose, it smells more like Tawny Port than it does whiskey, the inherent brown sugar and honey notes found in Irish making a secondary appearance. A more immersive barrel char note builds from there, with a richer earthiness also coming into focus.
Fruity sweetness dominates the palate, beginning with plump raisins and moving toward notes of cherries and figs. Some austerity is in store next, perhaps showing off a little oxidation from the initial sherry maturation, followed by a more overt “whiskeyness”: barrel char, fried dough, sherry-driven orange oil, and hazelnut notes. The finish is surprisingly a little short and more wood-forward than expected, though the essence of the Port remains in focus to varying degrees throughout the experience.
Somehow, I found myself wishing simultaneously to get both more Port influence and less from this whiskey — less sweetness on the attack, more on the finish. Even without a perfect sense of balance, however, the journey is plenty of fun all the same.
B+ / $100 / irishdistillers.ie