REDBREAST SINGLE POT STILL IRISH WHISKEY
Maison Corbeaux exclusive small batch cask strength Batch A (2019)
MASH BILL – Undisclosed mash of malted and unmalted barley
PROOF – 117.2
AGE – 14 years
DISTILLERY – Midleton Distillery
PRICE – $136
BUY AGAIN? – All 252 bottles are gone. And at this point I’m guessing any remaining bottles from the other three batches released in 2019 are likewise long gone.
Last year at this time I also posted about Redbreast, in that case a sister batch to the current one—the 14 Year Small Batch B selected by K&L. There were four batches total that year: A, B, C, and D. All aged 14 years in a variety of casks. In total, roughly 1000 bottles were distributed to a limited number of retailers in San Francisco, San Diego, and Boston.
Such a limited offering from Redbreast, among my favorite Irish whiskey brands, was irresistible. Turns out I was right not to resist. That Batch B was exceptional. After tasting it, I promptly ran out to get one of the few remaining bottles of Batch A, itself sold in San Francisco exclusively by Maison Corbeaux. It was pricier than the K&L batch. I also encountered a bottle of Batch D at a local BevMo. But alas I did not act fast enough, having hesitated due to $$$.
Whether the $108 Batch B or this $136 Batch A, it’s a three digit bottle. The question of whether any whiskey is ever worth that much is perennial and subjective. Batch B was worth it for me, personally. How is Batch A?
Here are some notes in brief, taken about four weeks after uncorking, and three pours into the bottle, tasted in both a traditional Glencairn and Irish crystal tumbler. These notes come from both glasses:
COLOR – a buttery lemon yellow
NOSE – vanilla custard, seared lemon and orange peel, cinnamon and caramel taffy
TASTE – a splash of prickly heat up front that settles into an almost granular texture, then waves of flavor in succession, starting with citrus and custard, then caramel, then a bloom of tropical fruit like papaya and pineapple
FINISH – warm, soft, the citrus peel and caramel sharing the event, with the tropical fruits on the edges
OVERALL – brighter in the Glencairn and darker in the Irish tumbler, but lively and flavorful in both
Less creamy than Batch B, with a greater emphasis on the citrus and tropical fruit notes, Batch A has a rowdy quality to it. The prickly heat and granular texture. The edginess of the seared citrus peel notes. The acidic aspects of the fruit, left untamed by the softer custard and caramel notes.
I’m more a fan of the creamy caramel notes than the sharper fruit notes. So if I had to choose, I’d likely go with Batch B. But I don’t have to choose. In fact I can’t choose! Batch B is long gone and here I am with Batch A.
And I’m quite content, all things considered. It’s not a whiskey I’ll reach for often. But sampled on this cold, cloudy day in March, it’s a great antidote to the dreary weather outside, offering brightness, warmth, and energy.
As I continue to explore Irish whiskey, I appreciate its tendency to be a life at a party. There is never anything brooding about an Irish whiskey in my experience. They always cheer me up. I may prefer one over another, and may personally find them ultimately less intriguing than certain bourbons or scotch whiskies. But when I want a guaranteed good time, Irish whiskey is a safe bet.
Redbreast offers some complexity without getting too serious, and for me that’s a nice friendly balance—and very welcomed in this lingering uncertain time we’re all living through. Simple pleasures have been elevated in importance during the past year. And this Redbreast 14 Year Small Batch series—in both the A and B batches, at least—offers simple pleasures without stooping to simplicity. Thank you Redbreast.