For the lower end of the market, few whiskeys deliver as much as the Redbreast 12 year old.
Very reasonably priced and packed full of complex flavour, this Irish whiskey has to be one of our team’s favourites here at Whisky World. As a relatively unique and accessible option amongst the Irish category, it’s distilled in the old-style single pot stills excluding any addition of grain whiskey.
So, whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or a curious novice, you’ll want to check out this Redbreast 12 year old review. In this post, we discuss this tremendous dram – exploring the whiskey’s colour, scent and flavour profile. From a self-purchase and a gift perspective, we’ll also cover the presentation, packaging and overall aesthetic of this charming bottle.
Let’s pour a glass, shall we?
Redbreast 12 review
Region: County Cork
Distillation method: Single pot still
Composition: Malted and unmalted barley mash
Strength: 40% ABV
Age: 12 years
Opening the bottle, this Irish whiskey releases an initial aroma of rich and sweet smells containing blasts of toasted fruit, oak, and warming spices. Investigating further, the fruitiness is reminiscent of apple, date, and prune, while the oak and spice notes contain hints of honey, vanilla, and cinnamon.
This whiskey smells like a delicious blend of sweet and savoury flavours – a wonderful invitation to pour this into your favourite drinking glass.
Having had a chance to breathe, the Redbreast 12 has an intriguing grassy freshness underlying its initially spiced scents. Swirling the whiskey in the glass releases additional caramel and citrus notes, along with a more pronounced alcohol kick.
If you’re taking your time with smelling this whiskey, this kick does begin to mask its finer notes slightly. This effect is only slight and is easily navigated by tilting your nose or giving your glass another swirl.
Overall, the Redbreast 12 year old Irish whiskey has a complex and inviting nose.
Image credit: Redbreast
Redbreast 12 tasting notes
On the first sip, the Redbreast 12 year old Irish whiskey is warming and smooth, with a sweet taste containing notes of buttery hot-cross buns, dried fruits, baking spices, and spicy oak. Drank neat there’s also a slight alcohol burn present.
With a little water, this whiskey certainly opens up. The sweetness becomes more pronounced, with the taste of caramel and brown sugar coming through. If you’re a sweet whiskey lover, this is one of the most attractive and enjoyable aspects of this lower-market bottle.
Having matured in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks, the oak notes are pleasingly abundant, also giving the whiskey a slightly drying finish. The Redbreast 12 year old is a delicious and complex whiskey, with something to offer both neat drinkers and those who enjoy their drams with a little water.
As a single pot still Irish whiskey, this means that it’s made using a pot still rather than the column stills used to make most other whiskeys. This method produces a heavier and more oily spirit, which gives Redbreast its characteristic richness and body.
The Redbreast 12 year old is an exceptionally well-balanced whiskey, with each sip revealing new layers of flavour. If you’re looking for a good-quality Irish whiskey to add to your collection, this easy-drinking dram should definitely be at the top of your list.
Image credit: Redbreast
Straight off the bat, it’s worth noting that this whiskey has been tinted with E150 caramel colouring and has also been chill-filtered.
Despite the controversy which surrounds both of these processes, this whiskey is impeccably clear, delivering a beautiful, rich colour that is equally inviting and enthralling. Its deep amber hue is certainly eye-catching and invites you to delve into the spiced flavour profile of this sublime dram.
As mentioned, the 12 year old has been coloured with E150 caramel. If that doesn’t bother you (as so many whiskies are indeed artificially coloured), the addition of caramel has resulted in a beautiful, rich amber hue that can’t help but draw you in.
Resultant of the chill filtering, the amber body is impeccably clear. This clarity further adds to the allure of this Irish whiskey and makes it even more inviting to enjoy. If you like your whiskey on the rocks, there’s little to fear of any cloudiness.
If you’re unfamiliar with chill-filtering, this process is used by many distilleries to remove some of the acids and proteins to prevent cloudiness in the spirit at low temperatures. In chill-filtering, whisky is cooled to between 5-10 degrees Celsius and passed through a series of fine cellulose absorption filters. Somewhat controversial amongst whisky drinkers, chill-filtering is often deemed to interfere with taste which can subtly define whiskies between distilleries. However, this process safeguards cloudiness, especially for those who add ice or enjoy their whisky in cold environments.
With an average price of £50, this whiskey would make an excellent gift for any occasion. For a 12 year old whiskey, this nip is incredibly smooth and easy to drink.
The nose holds aromas of sweet fruit, toasted oak and warm spices, and the palate offers notes of buttery hot-cross-buns, dried fruits, baking spices and spicy oak. Redbreast 12 is a single pot still which has been matured in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks, creating a sweet-and-spicy character.
If you’re looking for an Irish whiskey that is sure to please, then look no further than Redbreast 12. This whiskey has something for everyone – from the sweet fruit notes on the nose, to the rich and spicy flavours on the palate.
When it comes to presentation, the single pot still whiskey doesn’t disappoint.
Packaged inside a robust presentation box, this whisky has a fairly restrained palette of burgundy, cream and gold. It’s a fitting colouration considering its avian title. These classy tones work nicely together and would look excellent on any drinks table, shelf or home bar.
As a gift, the Redbreast 12 has a charming aesthetic. The little robin illustration is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face – and that’s before they’ve even drank it. For a self-purchase, this whiskey won’t jeopardise your monthly mortgage payment and is a real ‘staple’ for you to enjoy amongst your Irish selection of drams.
Considering it’s traditional aesthetic, there’s very little ‘noise’ on the front-facing presentation side. With only one-third of the rectangular cream label being used, it’s a relatively clean and quiet layout.
Short and stout, the dark green bottle subtly hints at a still-shaped sillhouette bearing embossed ‘Redbreast’ lettering. Almost barrel-like, the stocky base diameter provides a substantial hand-feel – nearly too wide for some hands. For pouring, the smooth tulip neck offers nimble control and a reassuring grip.
For us here at Whisky World, the bottle is elegant, subtle and traditional with a simple yet stylish presentation. Secondary but certainly nice aspects of this charming whiskey.
Redbreast 12 review – Our final thoughts
The Redbreast 12 year old Irish whiskey is an exceptional lower-market bottle. It’s incredibly flavoursome, complex, and great value for money. If you’re looking for a tasty Irish whiskey that won’t break the bank, then we highly recommend giving this one a try.
Whether you’re new to Irish whiskey or are already a fan of the emerald isle’s offerings, we think you’ll be thoroughly impressed by this excellent dram.
Redbreast 12 review FAQ’s
Is Redbreast 12 Smooth?
Yes, Redbreast 12 is a relatively smooth whiskey. Having been triple distilled in single pot stills, it has a balanced flavour profile and is fairly easy to drink. Similar to the other Redbreast ‘flock’ this Irish whiskey is aged in first-use ex-bourbon and sherry casks.
It has a smooth texture and well-balanced flavour profile which makes it easy to drink neat or on the rocks. However, it can also be enjoyed in cocktails or mixed drinks.
Is Redbreast 12 or 15 better?
In terms of flavour, both whiskies are incredibly smooth with a balanced sweetness. However, Redbreast 15 has more pronounced flavours thanks to its additional three years of ageing. On the nose, you can expect notes of sherry, dark fruits and spices. Whereas on the palate you’ll find flavours of dried fruits, chocolate and coffee.
The main difference between Redbreast 12 and 15 is the age of the whiskey. Redbreast 12 is a 12 year old Irish whiskey, whereas Redbreast 15 is a 15 year old Irish whiskey. As a result, Redbreast 15 will generally be more expensive than Redbreast 12.
What does Redbreast 12 taste like?
Redbreast 12 is a 12-year-old single pot still Irish whiskey that has been matured in a combination of first-use ex-bourbon and sherry casks. The whiskey has a sweet fruit aroma, with toasted oak and warm spices on the nose. On the palate, the Redbreast 12 offers notes of dried fruits, baking spices and oak. The finish is long and warming, with a pleasant sweet/spicy aftertaste.
Overall, Redbreast 12 is a delicious and balanced Irish whiskey that would be perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re new to Irish whiskey or a life ong fan, we think you’ll love the Redbreast 12.
Is Redbreast the best Irish whisky?
The Redbreast range is just some of the finest Irish whiskeys the republic has to offer. Defining the best is entirely subjective, however, their ‘flock’ of 7 whiskeys are considered a robust range of varying complexity, depth of flavour and quality.
The Redbreast brand is owned by Irish Distillers, which owns and operates the Midleton distillery and there it makes its various brands, including Midleton, Paddy Powers, and the best known, Jameson.
Is Redbreast made by Jameson?
No. Redbreast and Jameson are separate subsidiary whiskey brands that are both owned by the beverage and spirits company Irish Distillers. At the Midleton distillery in County Cork, Irish Distillers own and operate the large distillery complex where they make Green Spot, Yellow Spot, The Irishman, Writers Tears, Paddy, Powers, Redbreast, Midleton and Jameson whiskeys.
Is Redbreast the same as Jameson?
Redbreast whiskey is not the same as Jameson. Although they’re both made in the Midleton distillery in County Cork (Ireland) they have their own unique maturation, cask and distillation processes which give them differing flavour profiles.
The main difference between Redbreast and Jameson is that Redbreast is matured in both bourbon and sherry casks, while Jameson is matured only in bourbon casks. This gives Redbreast a more complex flavour profile, with notes of sweet fruit, toasted oak, and warm spices.
How do you drink Redbreast whiskey?
There are many ways to enjoy Redbreast whiskey, but these are three of the best:
1. Neat – Redbreast 12 is a delicious and balanced Irish whiskey that can be enjoyed neat when drank slowly. The smooth texture and well-rounded flavour profile make it a perfect sipping whiskey.
2. With water – Adding a little water to your Redbreast 12 opens up the flavours and aromas, enhancing the overall drinking experience.
3. On the rocks – For a slightly chilled version of Redbreast 12, pour over ice and enjoy. This particular method allows the whiskey to develop as the ice melts slowly as you drink it, creating a pleasing and gradual dilution.
Image credit: Irish Times
What are the 4 types of Irish whiskey?
1. Single Malt Irish Whiskey: This whiskey is made from malted barley, which is then matured in oak casks for a minimum of three years before being distilled by a singular distillery in copper pot stills.
2.Single Grain Irish Whiskey: This whiskey is made by a single distillery from a mash containing a single type of grain such as barley, wheat, corn or rye.
3.Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey: This whiskey is made from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley, which is then distilled in a singular copper pot still. This method was originally known as ‘Pure pot still’ or ‘Irish-style pot still’ whiskey.
4.Blended Irish Whiskey: A blend of single malt whiskeys from various other distilleries which are combined together to achieve a controlled and balanced flavour profile.
Image credit: Irish Times
The Midleton Distillery
Redbreast 12 year old Irish whiskey is one of the many whiskeys produced by the Midleton distillery. This distillery, which is located in Cork, Ireland, was founded by John Jameson in 1825 and is one of the most modern and largest distilleries in the world. Owned by Irish Distillers (a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard) the distillery complex hosts three enormous 75,000-litre pot stills and three column stills. These are the largest in the world and yield 64 million litres per year. The Midleton distillery is also the largest in Ireland.
What the distiller says
“Our signature bottling, Redbreast 12 boasts the flavour complexity and distinctive qualities of Pot Still whiskey. Made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley and then triple distilled in copper pot stills, the 12 year old boasts the flavour complexity and distinctive qualities of Pot Still whiskey.
Matured in a combination of Bourbon seasoned American Oak barrels and Oloroso Sherry seasoned Spanish oak butts, the distinctive Redbreast sherry style is a joy to behold in each and every bottle.”