Redbreast 12 - A Charmingly Complex Irish Sipper

Redbreast 12 Year Old
New Middleton Distillery
Taste Score: 92
Category: Irish Whiskey
Whisky Cabinet Score: ★ ★ ★ ☆ *

Redbreast 12 is the exact opposite type of drink I reach for, and yet it continues to be one I always have around. This isn’t a ‘staying out at a loud bar’ whisky, but rather an ‘at home reading a book’ sipper.

Redbreast is produced in New Midleton Distillery (home of Jameson). It’s not a single malt, but rather a pot still, which is made from both malted and unmalted barley. Unmalted barley is typically responsible for greener notes, and it’s traditional from an era where the UK charged taxes on malted barley. Both Scotland and Ireland blended malted and unmelted barley to save on taxes, but Ireland kept up the practice even after Britain updated its tax laws.

From start to finish, there’s little dramatic flair here, and yet that calming reassurance makes it work. On the nose, it’s light, nutty and fruity, with that gentlest hint of caramel. Without much thought, I could simply enjoy a sip of this for the delicious drink that it is. But there is lots to explore. On the palate there’s a light vanilla malty sweetness, and a delicious push toward warm subtle spice with a substantial calming finish. The spice and sweetness are nicely balanced.

When asked to recommend whiskies to those that are new to the whisky world, Redbreast 12 is on the top of my list. Yes, it’s smooth, and light, and bottled at only 40% ABV. But there’s a charming complexity here, and for the right moment, it works brilliantly. 

*Whisky Cabinet Rating Explained:
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆  Not recommended
★ ☆ ☆ ☆  Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
★ ★ ☆ ☆  Your great regular rotation whisky that'll come and go
★ ★ ★ ☆  Excellent, a near must-have
★ ★ ★ ★  Extraordinary, memorable, and original