I’ve been a fan of Irish whiskey since the first time I tried Redbreast 12. That was the hook in for me, but it has continued on – Redbreast 21 is still one of my favourite drams, as is (not that I get to really try it often since it’s £350 a bottle) the extraordinarily fruity, rich Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve.
I’ve since come to love the smoky, oily Connemara, the sweet richness of Greenore Single Grain and the other pot still variants that come out of Midleton – Green Spot, Yellow Spot, Power’s. Since I started drinking whisky, the Irish playing field has been fairly limited in terms of producers, but with loads more coming on board – Teeling, Tullamore Dew, Mark Reynier’s new venture at the old Guinness plant – I have no doubt the scene will be an explosion of interest in the next five to 10 years.
And so it’s always of interest to me when a new variant launches. The latest one I’ve had the chance to try is Redbreast Mano a Lamh. Meaning ‘hand in hand’ this whiskey is the first from the company to be matured solely in Spanish oak ex-sherry casks.
Now, Redbreast on its own has always already been a fairly rich whiskey. The younger variants have a lovely, raisin and nut characteristic, while the 21 year old is a perfect harmony of tropical fruits, rich oak and spice. So, I was curious to know how much bolder it would get without the influence of more vanilla and spice led American oak casks.
I was not to be disappointed. I didn’t try this one on my own, but the person who had it alongside me said it was one of the best sherry-cask matured whiskies he’d had in the past year.
The bottling itself is available only to members of the Midleton online Single Pot Still club. It’s also very limited – there were around 2000 bottles when it launched but I know from the team there that it’s almost sold out, so if you are interested, I would get onto the site soon (you can register for the club and order straight away). At €65 (£55) it’s a steal in my opinion. Here are my tasting notes:
Redbreast Mano a Lamh: 46%: €65:
(c): Cinder toffee
(n): Cherries, vanilla and a floral, nutty note that reminds of Amontillado sherry. Then Bakewell tart, fruit loaf, powdered ginger, dark brown sugar, sticky toffee pudding and peanut skins. It’s rich but with a balance between the sweetness and some spice.
(p): Raisins, lots of dark chocolate before a nice dark sugar sweetness, liquorice, cherries, toasted cinnamon sticks, and a nice woody dryness near the end alongside cocoa powder.
(f): Long and inviting.
In conclusion: Absolutely gorgeous. A lot of weight on the palate, making it bigger than the 12 or 15. Almost a split personality: starts fresh and then delves into sherry territory, becoming richer.