The entry point of Midleton’s Redbreast range is a triple distilled pot still (malted and unmalted barley) whiskey matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and Spanish ex-oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 40% ABV. It’s a very well-known expression – even outside of dedicate whisky enthusiast circles. And rightly so – its price-point puts it firmly into the profusion of gateway whiskies – many of which offer value, but little in the way of notable excitement. As of writing you’ll be able to pick this up from Master of Malt for £44.95.
Nose: Yellow and white fruits throughout – ripe honeydew melon, tinned apricots and dried peach slices. Floral honey sits with leafy greens and dusty vanilla whilst a heady mixture of ginger and cloves is joined by nut roast and a dash of rapeseed oil.
Taste: As thickly textured as 40% ABV is likely to deliver – velvety oleaginousness and walnut oil on the arrival. Marzipan sweetness is immediate, followed by soft caramel chews and ginger and clove spiced block toffee. Touches of oloroso sherry influence push through – assorted red berries – both fresh and jammy. Green oak and grassier notes arrive on the back palate alongside chocolate and acrylic glue.
Finish: Medium with tinned peached and apricots dusted in dusty baking spices and livened by a twist of candied lemon peel.
As an entry point to the distillery’s wider range, I find Redbreast 12 year old to be a totally convincing offering. It is an easily recommendable bottling with all the traits one would expect of high-quality trad pot whiskey. There’s plenty on offer for 40% ABV and even more so at the sub-£50 price point. If you were drawing up a list of five ‘essential’ Irish whiskies to stock a bar with I’d be stunned if this didn’t make your list.