How’s it going Pandas! Today I’ll get to try a special edition from one of my favourite go to brands- Redbreast.
The Redbreast Lustau edition is quite likely one of the most accessible and enjoyable Irish whiskies that we have sampled. There is nothing particularly unusual or uncanny about the way the edition is made. It is just a straightforward and great-tasting dram that is effortless to imbibe.
The Redbreast Lustau Edition started out as a collaboration between Midleton Distillery and a genuine Spanish sherry winery called Bodegas Lustau. The edition became so popular that it was eventually kept as part of Redbreast’s core range of whiskies.
Redbreast is part of Pernod Ricard’s Irish whiskey family, along with brands like Jameson and Spot. Fans of Irish whiskey would tell you that Redbreast is a little closer to Irish whisky-making tradition than other brands made at Midleton Distillery because Redbreast is made using the “Single Pot Still” style of whisky-making. For an in-depth write-up on how the Redbreast gets its flavour profile, check out this write up on Midleton Distillery.
Distributor: Original Bottling (OB)
Classification: Irish Whiskey
Style: Single Pot Still
Cask: Ex-Bourbon, Ex-Sherry, Bodegas Lustau Oloroso Finish
Behind the Label
Redbreast is but one of many brands made at Midleton Distillery. However, it is consistently and highly regarded as the most iconic and best whiskey to capture the traditional Irish character.
Why so? While Scottish “single malt” distilleries exclusively use malted barley, the Irish “single pot” style tends to involve malted barley, and a portion of ‘green’ unmalted barley. The unmalted barley adds a distinctive spicy overtone and silkier heavier texture not present in Scotch. This is also known as “Pot still” whiskey, or “single pot still” if made within the same distillery. For a clearer picture, I refer you to my trusty Chalkboard A:
To save a failing Irish whiskey industry, a decision was made by the Irish whiskey indusry to shift the focus from the traditional Irish pot still to blended whiskey which has a more approachable style. Many Irish brands became blended whiskies. Redbreast is one of a small handful of single pot still whiskeys still sold today, one of only two to have been produced almost continuously since the early 1900s.
How did the name “Redbreast” come about? The company was founded in the 1900s. Its chairman at the time was said to be an avid bird watcher. He fancied calling the whiskey, which has a reddish hue, "Redbreast" in reference to a species of bird called the Robin Redbreast which has a patch of amber feathers on its chest.
A Robin Redbreast bird. (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)
It is easy to see why. Redbreasts are pretty cute!
More on the bottle now! The Redbreast Lustau Edition is born of a unique collaboration between the Bodegas Lustau and the Midleton Distillery. Like all other Redbreasts, it was initially matured in traditional bourbon and sherry casks for a period of 9-12 years. The premium finishing comes when it is then finished for 1 additional year in hand selected first-fill sherry butts seasoned with the finest Oloroso sherry from the prestigious Bodegas Lustau from the Jerez region.
In the glass, the whiskey is a bright amber colour.
On the nose, this is bright, rich and estery. This leads with substantial vanilla with toasted almonds that grow in intensity. Taking centre stage are waves of honey, caramel and vanilla custard accompanied by an equal part of bright estery fruits- Saturn peaches and pineapples. There is a minor part of raisins and sultanas. Remarkably clean, fresh, bright and aromatic.
The spirit is relatively crisp and honeyed, but there is also small touch of dark oakiness and chocolately notes; this takes some repeated nosing. Adding several drops of water coaxed these aromas out.
On the palate, refreshingly crisp, sweet and velvety in texture. Taking a sip, the opening flavours are sweet, bright and estery in a distinctively Irish whiskey way that makes the flavours permeate your olfactory canal. A heap of vanilla shortbread and lashings of honey and butter, supported by rich and luscious raisins, sultanas and cherries that come through more distinctively in the palate. Interestingly, the sweet dark fruits are dominant on the palate but there is no dryness that usually follow. None of that red winey-leathery texture. Instead, we have sweet dark fruits supported by a creamy and velvety texture. The combination of the luscious dark fruits and honey reminds me of a raisin-topped sticky kouign amann.
Great balance with a rich body and velvety texture.
Just like what I enjoyed in my review of the Redbreast 12, I really like the marriage of equals between the clean and sweet vanilla flavours on one hand and sweet sherry notes on the other.
The remarkable difference in the Lustau is really that there is no dryness or leatheriness that generally accompany sherried whiskies.
The finish is long with the enduring sweetness of vanilla, raisins and pineapples. As the more lively notes subside, you start to detect light spices of cinnamon and ginger prickliness. There is also just a touch of bitter hoppiness you would get from a lager beer, that linger a little while on your tongue.
This reminds me of everything that I love in signature style of Redbreast, with extra sweetness and creaminess that makes it even more enjoyable.
Many fans of Irish whiskey would be familiar with Redbreast 12 or even the Redbreast 12 Cask Strength. They would notice that the Lustau is noticeably sweeter, more crisp and more estery in its aroma. The Oloroso finishing adds a component of rich and luscious red fruits that really stepped up the game and made this very tasty and unforgettable.
This Redbreast is another liquid dessert that is sweet, rich, satisfyingly heavy bodied and effortless to drink. Three ice cream sundaes.
A liquid dessert like this would pair well with a dish that is really full on flavour. Incidentally, I find that when I am eating extremely spicy meals, drinking something sweet helps balance out and mellow down the spicy sensations on my tongue.
I had this Redbreast Lustau while having a dinner of Australian wagyu beef and Szechuan hot pot (at home). The oily and savoury richness of beef flakes in numbing Sichuan spice washes down extremely well with the creamy and velvety whiskey.
Whiskey prudes might not agree that such a pungent dish would do justice to your whiskey. But I am not about to let rules get in my way of enjoying a good meal.
(Image Source: 2 Cents)