The second ‘rung’ in the Redbreast age statement range (which consists of 12,15,21 and a recently added 27 year old), the 15 year old is a triple distilled pot still whiskey matured in a combination of first fill and refill ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. Bottled at 46% ABV you’ll need to dig a little bit deeper than the 12 year old for this expression – around 50% deeper - £75.95 at The Whisky Exchange as of writing. The price bump over the gateway bottling is understandable – there needs to be some advancement to reach the dizzy heights of the rightly lauded 21 year old - but nevertheless at this asking price, the bottling sits at the more expensive end for whiskies of this age.
Nose: Polished apples, candied lemon peels and underripe pineapple chunks sit with wild honey, candy canes and chopped almonds. Orange oils and chocolate malt loaf peek through whilst burnt toffee is joined by petrichor and forest floors together with shingles and grit. Dilution expresses caramel and butterscotch but dulls the higher-level fruitier notes down into a non-specific morass. Yeah - ill advised - stick to 46% here.
Taste: Distinctively ‘fatty’ with plenty of polished oak and sweet fruity character on the arrival. Peaches, gooseberries, orange zest and dusty tropicals sit with toffee and fudge, whilst ginger and cinnamon spices envelop the palate. Earthy pepperiness with touches of salinity – oddly akin to seasoned aggregates – are joined by light touches of menthol, beeswax and progressively drying oakiness. Reduction offers an interesting change in composition with toffee and butterscotch notes in the front palate and fruitier cues pushed to the back – but as with the nose the composition sings more clearly when left in its natural state.
Finish: Medium to long with peppy ginger and peppery spices alongside drying oak – tempered with creamy vanilla custard. Water reduces the finishing length – from a linger to an abrupt close.
There’s a logical progression from the ‘entry’ Redbreast 12 year old through to this higher strength, older sibling. It’s deeper, richer, weightier and in many aspects more intricate – but still quite clearly derived from the pot still DNA that defines the entire range of Redbreast whiskies. Peas in a pod. And yet I’d still likely reach for the 12 year old. Just.
But don't take our word for it..
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