Rarely 24 hours passes without some form of ‘World Day’ occurrence being in observation. Some promote awareness of pressing, timely subects, others social-political action. World Whisky Day is rather more focussed on first world issues – I.E. kicking back and drinking booze. And yet, there’s something more to be said about a global celebration of the water of life than just photos of charged glasses – whisky is still seen in many quarters as inaccessible, overly-masculine and to some increasingly elitist. Whilst events such as World Whisky Day look to make ‘whisky fun and enjoyable’ – doesn’t the industry and community have something of duty to leverage the heightened awareness from such a day for more than just product promotion and celebratory drinking?
I can’t help but feel that folks are missing a trick with their World Whisky Day celebrations – and honestly, I’m as guilty as everyone else. Whilst social media might light up with announcements of brand events and tastings – how is that fundamentally different from any other Saturday night? You don’t have to travel far to see that folks are already spending a considerable amount of their downtime sharing and discussing drams. There’s an opportunity here not just for bottle launches and whisky camaraderie, but to cast aside false aspersions, increase inclusivity and to bolster the understanding and knowledge both inside and outside of enthusiast circles. Hmmm, food for thought - I should talk to founder Blair Bowman when the opportunity next arises....
Irish Distillers have taken to adopting World Whisky Day as a launch platform for their Redbreast Dream Cask series. Last year a 1985 32 year old was released to high praise and high demand – this year, the age-statement on the bottle is a smaller, but the contents are potentially more interesting.
Taking four single pot still casks that were envisaged for use in Redbreast 21 year old, the components of the 2019 Dream Cask span from 1985 through to 1998, and include both oloroso sherry and, in a first for Midleton a PX finish. Whilst the 20 year old age statement denotes the youngest component, there’s trad pot whiskey in here that’s 33 years of age:
1998 ex-bourbon re-racked into a Pedro Ximenez butt in 2012
1995 ex-bourbon re-racked into oloroso sherry in 2012
1985 2nd fill ex-bourbon
1997 2nd fill ex-bourbon
The release (of 924 bottles) will be available at 3pm on the 27th May via Redbreast’s member’s area – The Birdhouse and will cost €380.
Nose: Pronounced reduced and dried fruits – raspberries, blackcurrants, apricots and dates – with plenty of well-worn oak furniture, heady cinnamon, dusty dunnage and sherry rancio. Golden syrup, boozy toffee and vanilla provide a backbone on which leather, hazelnuts and marzipan deliver yet more sherries tones. Reduction introduces some ancient orange liqueurs, leather armchairs, biscuit crumb and a slight meaty quality.
Taste: Oily, thick, viscous and quite mouth coating. Bold berries – raspberry, cranberry and redcurrant with dried apricots and mangos and plenty of syrupy, but dry sherry influence. The development heads spice-wards with expressive cinnamon, anise and pepper joining burnt toffee and liquorice. Drinking chocolate and spent coffee beans move steadily towards chamois leather, dusty earthiness and dunnage floors. The addition of water maintains the strong weight and body of the liquid but with more pronounced spiciness (clove and nutmeg coming through) whilst vanilla, dry oak and tannins push forwards.
Finish: Long with stepped fruit teas, coffee grounds and hazelnuts.
Redbreast Dream Cask Pedro Ximenez Edition is all about the deep and penetrating sherry layer that has been added on top of some well-aged pot still foundations. The integration of the two ex-bourbon and two sherry-finished casks is very well accomplished and has resulted in a rather different type of fruit-forward profile than you might expect from a well-aged Redbreast. There’s plenty of expressiveness here, but it’s darker, viscid, glossy, intense and highly reduced. Those expecting bright tropicals should look elsewhere – this is all vigorous (but still dynamic) cavernous sherry. As you’d probably expect, the entry-price is steep – limited edition, well-aged trad pot whiskey with added sherry is never going to be a steal.
Review sample provided by Richmond & Towers on behalf of Irish Distillers
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