It has to be said that one of the countries that's reacted rather impressively though cautiously to this wake up call has been Ireland. Infact I think it’s fair to say that there’s been a bit of an Irish whiskey renaissance.
Initially led by a beautifully bold and balanced bunch of releases from the Cooley distillery range of Connemara, Greenore, kilbeggan and Tyrconnell whiskies, the other big boys in the Irish market and in this particular instance the Midleton Distillery (Irish Distillers) have now decided to join the dramalution!
Following on from the launch of their Pot Still range of whiskies earlier in the year, they’ve decided to do something which is a first for an Irish Pot Still distiller. In essence they found something that wasn’t broken and then decided to fix it.
At this stage you’re probably wondering what on earth am I whittering on about, well let me explain. One of the finest examples of Irish drammage has and always will be the Redbreast 12 year old. But now those fine people at Midleton have decided to do one better and go full throttle by releasing a cask strength bottling, and by golly am I glad they have.
If you’re a fan of both the standard 12 year old bottling and Spinal Tap, you’ll probably understand what I mean when I say they’ve upped the ante and cranked the dramming amp up to 11.
The nose kicks off with a vivaciously vigorously velvety nostril fondle by a warm bar of Cadbury’s Caramel and a deconstructed breakdown of a Christmas cake, starting with sherry soaked raisins and ending up with layers of marzipan and rolled fondant icing.
Whiffs of foam bananas and overly ripe conference pears then take a firm grip on the proceedings, followed by an alluring aroma of vanilla infused stewed fruits and the subtle suggestion of a Kirsch cherry liqueur.
A big mug of hot chocolate topped with pink marshmallows, echoed with intermittent nasal lashes of oak make for the next set of delights, along with yet more chocolate action in the form of some deep dark and bitter fudge brownies.
The palate which has to be said is phenomenally well balanced and tamed continues to deliver a wealth of wonderlicious wonders. Kicking off with yet more of that Cadbury’s Caramel, but this time accompanied by a sticky warm toffee apple with a sprinklette of crushed pink peppercorns.
An oak and sherry soaked fruit frenzy then ensues, but it’s not long before all the aforementioned delights are dwarfed momentarily by a dollop of damp grain infused plum jam and a rather grassy-esque serving of blackberry conserve.
A subtle kick of cherry cough mixture and the aftertaste and texture of a certain Irish whiskey cream liqueur make for the next set of palatable pleasures, along with a generous slice of black forest gateau, which for some strange reason has been filled with Nutella and garishly topped with more of those pink marshmallows.
Just like a good book, this rich rewarding rumpus of a Redbreast has a strong and confident beginning, middle and end and finishes by looping all its aforementioned wares again and again until they gently and graciously fizzle out.