The Irish still seem to be warming up to the idea of cask strength whiskey. While the numbers are certainly growing, the pickings are comparatively slim when you look to the east where the Scots have embraced high octane expressions for decades. Of course, not nearly with the same enthusiasm and zeal as we rocket fuel-loving Yanks.
I’m probably wrong, but it seems like Redbreast Cask Strength was one of the earliest, widely available examples of a cask strength Irish whiskey. (Please sound off in the comments section to correct me!) We last sampled it over a decade ago, and in all that time, it still remains top of mind whenever someone asks for a bigger, bolder example of the traditionally milder whiskey style. Since last we tasted Redbreast Cask Strength over a decade ago, nothing really seems to have changed beyond the updated packaging. It remains triple distilled from 100% barley (malted and unmalted) and matured at least 12 years in a combination of ex-bourbon barrels and oloroso seasoned Spanish oak butts. All that said, let’s revisit this one.
The aroma is not so much big as it is full. Not punchy with alcohol or an elevated intensity of aroma, just rounder and more defined than the original. Notes of sweet porridge, buttercream, and white pepper lead things off, and as it opens in the glass, the fruited sweets arrive in layers of Bananas Foster and lemon cream pie. There just aren’t many Irish whiskeys with this kind of nose. Approachable but again wonderfully rounded, the palate lets loose with a silky wave of dark honey, coconut cream, and Hummingbird cake. It’s warming and gently spiced with fresh cinnamon and clove notes. The finish arrives with generous notes of ripe banana and butterscotch that brighten ever so slightly with a bit of lemon oil before a long, lingering reduction of almond cookies and drying oak. Exquisite stuff. Even better than I remembered.
112.6 proof. Reviewed: Batch No. B1/21.