W&A Gilbey was founded in 1857 as a gin distillery based in Dublin. Gilbey’s sourced distillates held on bond from various Dublin-based distilleries. This including liquid from Jameson’s Bow Street Distillery which was used to produce ‘John Jameson & Son’s Castle “JJ Liqueur” Whiskey 12 Years Old in 1903. Likely the forerunner of Redbreast, the first official use of this name did not occur until 1912 when it was used as a nickname from the then Gilbey’s chairman who was an enthusiastic birdwatcher.
Redbreast was produced in Dublin until 1971 when production moved to New Midleton Distillery in Cork. In 1985 production of Redbreast was ceased and Gilbey’s were bought by Irish Distillers in 1986. The brand returned in 1991 and now bottles several age statements and special editions.
Redbreast has become the largest selling single pot still Irish whiskey in the world. Let’s see if we can find out why from the multi-award winning and very well regarded 21 year old.
Nose: Straight away we're in the tropics here with over ripened bananas and mangos. This is tempered by aromas right out of a bakery and the usual toffee and raisins you’d expect from something this age with a sherry influence. There’s some polish here and some tobacco. Singed, kindled tobacco. A splash of water enhances all of these scents right up to the next level. This is a great nose guys.
Taste: Again, hugely fruity with those tropical notes right at the fore. Tobacco and now acetone blend with a malty breakfast cereal note. Nutmeg and cinnamon from the spice side of things, and more than a hint of dusty library overall. Really great balance and integration of the elements.
Finish: Medium, but progressive and developing constantly with the spices and fruits interplaying with each other wonderfully as it gentle fades away.
The high regard is well placed. This is a superb whiskey offering the drinker rich intense flavour, great complexity and above all else a quite simply stunning balance.