Towards the end of 2016 Midleton distillery, once again, flexed its muscles as we were all treated to another new release from those people behind Redbreast.
Over the last few years, compared to the other established Irish distilleries, namely Bushmills and Cooley, we have been treated to a number of new offerings coming out of Midleton distillery and, as I'm sure you may have noticed, the Redbreast name has been popping frequently up amongst these new expressions.
In 2013 we had the Redbreast 21 year old, in 2015 we had the limited edition Redbreast "Mano a Lámh" and earlier this year we had a Celtic Whiskey Shop exclusive in the form of a Redbreast 1999 single cask.
Each of these had their own unique selling point yet people may have thought the 21 year old to be a little bit too expensive for their wallets, the "Mano a Lámh" a little bit too limited to get hold of and the 1999 single cask a little bit too much of a combination of the previous two.
Moving forward to present day and now Redbreast have released a new, permanent expression that will be widely available to all.
Redbreast "Lustau" is a single pot still Irish whiskey that has been finished in hand selected, first-fill sherry butts, with the aim of celebrating the iconic sherry influence found throughout the Redbreast range.
Matured initially in a combination of ex-Bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks, for about 9-12 years, Redbreast "Lustau" has been wholly finished for one year in sherry butts from the Spanish sherry house "Bodegas Lustau" and has come about a result of the long standing relationship between the bodega and the distillery in Midleton.
Redbreast "Lusatu" has been bottled at 46% ABV, without chill-filtration and at a recommended price point of £55.
Now while you may be thinking this is a little steep for a NAS whiskey, I'd like to firstly say that you may be able to get this a little cheaper if you shop around and, secondly, I'd like to reiterate the mention of an initial maturation of 9-12 years.
I feel that the only reason they are leaving an age statement off the bottle is that they may need to dip a little younger, or maybe even a little older, in the future, but what can be guaranteed is that the team behind the release will always aim to ensure that the quality shall remain the same.
Onto my notes:
Nose - Interesting mix of older sherry cask and fresh red fruits. The slightly older notes have a nice, deep, dried fruit complexity with Christmas cake and winter spices. The fresher notes, however, keep the heavier feel in check with touches of strawberry jam, and stewed strawberries with cream. I know the stewed element may not seem so fresh but when up against the likes of deep raisin you see where I'm coming from. The pot still distillate is evident and seems like it's gently wrapped in a red berry coating. The spice comes through showing that the spirit has not lost its way and the younger notes give the overall mouth-feel a nice edge to it. A little touch of oaky vanilla lies beneath the strawberries and cream element and I have to say it's all very inviting.
Palate - Again a fantastic mix with the fresher elements appearing first. Dark berry coulis and jam is followed by the rich fruit cake of the longer sherry maturation. Spicy black pepper, that's almost dry red chilli in nature, reminds you of the style of whiskey you're enjoying and it brings the whole glass together. Delicious.
Finish - As the alcohol dies down you are left with juicy red fruits and a lasting kick of dry oak spice. This all leaves you with the suggestion to pour another glass.
Overall this is another fantastic addition to the Redbreast range. It may not be as smooth as the 12 year old, but it's smooth enough. It may not be as heavy hitting as the "Mano a Lámh", but it hits all the right notes whilst keeping them restrained through careful finishing in a fresh sherry cask.
I can easily see this becoming a firm favourite within the Redbreast range.
As with the Powers "Three Swallow", it's great to see that Midleton are able to move effortlessly into the release of NAS expressions without reducing the quality we've grown to love. Long may these releases continue.
Until next time,