Redbreast Irish whiskey, which is produced by Irish Distillers in Midleton Distillery, has launched the Redbreast Dream Cask, which will be available to buy through its online members’ club, The Birdhouse, from World Whisky Day (Saturday 19th May). The release follows requests from consumers and whiskey experts over the past 12 months, and becomes the first in a new series planned for the coming years.
Redbreast Dream Cask is a limited edition, 32 Year Old single pot still Irish whiskey – a single cask that was hand-selected last year by Master Blender, Billy Leighton, as his favourite Redbreast whiskey. The cask was chosen for having the perfect balance of pot still, Spanish oak and sherry flavours, which can usually only be achieved through blending – bringing to life Redbreast’s signature sherry style.
The whiskey was originally unveiled during a Facebook LIVE tasting to mark Redbreast’s World Whisky Day 2017 celebrations. Participants and viewers praised the quality and rarity of what is now the oldest Redbreast Irish whiskey ever to go on sale, with many requesting that the whiskey be made available to buy.
Redbreast Master Blender, Billy Leighton, commented: “In almost 40 years as a blender, Redbreast Dream Cask is a real highlight as I am able to select my own, personal dream Irish whiskey and share it with the world. Our inaugural tasting in 2017 was by far the largest whiskey tasting I have ever held, and the feedback we have received from the whiskey community on the liquid has been phenomenal, so it’s an honour to see it bottled to mark World Whisky Day 2018 – and watch this space for our 2019 plans.”
The Redbreast Dream Cask represents the perfect contribution of flavours through a careful maturation journey rounded out by a particularly sublime sherry butt. The original date of bonding goes back to 31st October 1985, with single pot still Irish whiskey filled into re-fill American Oak ex-Bourbon barrels. Then, on 8th March 2011, the whiskey was re-casked into a first-fill Oloroso Sherry-seasoned butt. The resulting whiskey is luxuriously smooth with wood resin notes reminiscent of well-polished antique furniture, lots of ripe fresh fruit flavours and an extremely balanced finish that slowly fades.
Redbreast Dream Cask is bottled without the use of chill-filtration at 46.5% ABV and is available in very limited quantities through Redbreast’s online private members’ club, The Birdhouse, for €500 per 50cl bottle. Click here to visit The Birdhouse.
Brendan Buckley, Strategy, Insight, Innovation & Prestige Whiskeys Director at Irish Distillers, added: “What started out as a celebration of Redbreast on World Whisky Day has developed into the release of a limited edition directly requested by Redbreast fans. We didn’t know it then, but World Whisky Day 2017 was just the beginning for Redbreast Dream Cask and we look forward to what Billy Leighton, and his apprentice Dave McCabe, will find in our Midleton warehouses in the years to come.”
I hold my hands up when ever I conduct or host a tasting, masterclass or seminar and exclaim with the sentence “I confess, I don’t know everything about today’s subject”. Whether that is to be the history of a cocktail, the production of tequila or marketing of a beer, I always have to do my homework, and even then I may still have to refer to my notes to be able to deliver a confident speech or presentation. In my line of work, every day involves some kind of pitch. Even when I was bartending, you have to be confident in selling your products no matter what they are, and that’s exactly what I try to aim towards today. Whether my audience is to be a group of bartenders experiencing pisco for the first time, or thirty wine experts learning about the marketing a product in the modern-day, you have to be prepared for any outcome.
I attend many tastings and masterclasses to learn and experience a wide variety, which hopefully comes across within each article you read on this site. Inevitably I only know and therefore present to you what I take in, with official facts and stories entwined, but the chance to truly understand a category or indeed a specific brand can be rare. I’ve been very lucky since Drinks Enthusiast’s inception in that I have been able to appreciate first hand a variety of brands including Benedictine, Sloane’s, Sibling Distillery, Warner Edwards, Auchentoshan and most recently Grey Goose. All these trips have been an opportunity presented to me and in some cases would be hard for a regular customer to access. One experience is far from this statement, and to the UK, is presented right on the doorstep.
Last week, Irish Distillers of Pernod Ricard invited me to explore their relatively new concept within the Old Midleton Distillery, just outside of Cork. Since February 2013, The Irish Whiskey Academy has been offering an insight into the process of grain to bottle, and explain everything in between through modern and traditional techniques. The academy is taught through a classroom of sorts, within the renovated mill manager’s house at the boundary between the old and new Midleton distilleries. Here begins your journey into one of four packages that the academy offer, all presented by the incredibly knowledgeable David McCabe. For myself and the rest of the whiskey enthusiasts who had joined me from across the UK, Ireland and Netherlands, we experienced the ‘Enthusiast’ package (appropriately named I know!) which meant a two day look at everything the academy can offer.
The arrival at the Old Midleton Distillery offers an enticing view that easily transports you back to the 1800’s and sets the tone for the styles of buildings you will explore. In no particular order of itinerary, a tour of the old buildings dives into the workings of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, with the impressive Warehouse A1, one of the first warehouses that matured Cork Distillery whiskey, a must see. Interactive scenes gives you the best insight into the life of a distillery worker with even the likes of the customs office and waterwheel available to explore.
The main part of the academy though brings you to a comfortable lecture hall styled room. With movable blackboards offering clear diagrams, David McCabe explains everything from the raw materials used within the distillery, how each material is cultivated, brewed and fermented including the upgrade to modern techniques over the decades and the two main distillation methods used; pot and continuous distillation. Hands on approaches are also used, with the ability to see, smell and taste malted and unmalted barley straight from the fields, to the experiment of distilling water and alcohol within the classroom itself. An explanation into the differences between the variety of expressions created at the new distillery is also offered, so that you are fully aware of how each is created and ultimately shows a different flavour profile.
Staves are also handed out for a better understanding of the maturation techniques that the Irish Distillers use, as well as a look into their use of American and sherry oak barrels and how they came to be an integral part of the brands they create. This becomes even clearer with a demonstration within the cooperage itself, hosted by Master Cooper Ger Buckley. Here, Ger explains his role within the company and the art of creating a barrel through the tools used by previous generations. The insight into the woods used and the methods to repair casks that will ultimately hold whiskey for a number of years really gives an indication of how important the role of a Master Cooper can be.
This knowledge will also impart your beliefs and flavours into the blending exercise where you are able to blend your very own whiskey for you to take home. Not many places who can give you that kind of opportunity.
Of course, no academy course would be complete without a lesson in the art of truly appreciating the finished product. Held in the lounge area of the academy, itself adorned with old advertising posters, vintage photos and a wall of bottling’s from the Irish Distillers over the years, you can taste the likes of the Jameson range, Paddy’s, Powers, Midleton, Redbreast and both Green and Yellow Spot. To compliment, lunch at the Malt House, Jameson’s own restaurant within the Old Distillery, is a must.
Although I could write about everything I have learnt from my own two day trip, I feel that It would be more effective to explain within each of the features I have written, so please take a look at my articles of the Irish Distillers portfolio over the coming weeks for a more in-depth look at how each expression is created. In summarising this feature though,
I can’t stress enough that although the academy offers quite literally everything you need to know regarding not just Irish Distillers, but Irish whiskey in general, it’s not just for bartenders or expert whiskey lovers. I can safely say that all grades of knowledge will come away with an idea of what whiskey is all about. The four packages have been created to cater, and whichever you ultimately go for, you will go away with so much more than when you entered.
Get yourself signed up, enjoy yourself and try some fantastic whiskies. The Irish Whiskey Academy should be a high priority for anyone who has even a slight interest in Irish whiskey.
For more information on The Irish Whiskey Academy, please visit their website.
A little over-due, but back at the end of May, the fifth instalment of the Manchester Whisky Club had a little Irish added to the occasion. Held at the Lass O’Gowrie, the fifth meeting had a special guest in the form of Jameson Brand Ambassador Stephen Carberry, bringing with him 5 expressions from their range.
After talking a little bit about the history of Jameson, Irish whisky in general and how it all differs from the rest, we cracked on with trying some usual but also unexpected names.
So without further a do, lets see how they all fared –
Jameson – 40%
Matured for at least seven years. Soft hints of vanilla on the nose with a light, smooth aroma boding well for the long offering on the palate. Smoother offering of grain and honey with a slight dryness near the end.
Jameson Select Reserve – 43%
Produced using a small batch of grain collected once a week per year from a field that is never touched thereafter. Around 10 years matured. Slightly sharp nose at the beginning but softens out with a wisp of smoke. Sweet offering on the palate with very smooth texture of toffee and lingering smoke.
Jameson Gold Reserve – 40%
Matured in original fresh oak barrels, then ex bourbon barrels and finished in ex sherry casks. Rich malt on the nose with almond aromas dancing nicely. Very smooth when it hits the palate with flavours of honey and oak mixing well. A long finish of malt.
Green Spot – 40%
A nose of damp raisin and hints of marzipan, with an ending of dry wood. A rich sharpness on the palate with a full bodied flavour of thick green fruit that produced a fresh, long finish.
Redbreast 12yr – 40%
Sharp on the nose with a rich aroma of red fruit. Hints of spice on the palate with a rich yet short offering of citrus and nuts.
A great collection showcased, with the Green Spot and Gold Reserve my personal highlights.
June had an evening across the pond in the USA, so a great chance to see how the lighter whiskies from Ireland would compare to the bourbons and rye whiskies of America.