Among my whisky geek friends, I am known as the one who’s typically wrong. This isn’t 100% because I say wrong things all the time. It’s also because, in my past, I worked in marketing, and in marketing, if you don’t say something with total confidence then you aren’t believed. If you wait to look something up, no one believes you. If you show any weakness or human compassion in any way, you are weak and need to be eaten by the others. Thus I say wrong things and with total confidence, making them worse. I’m trying to get better at this.
I’m also known as the guy who enjoys Irish whiskies. Which is more pertinent here.
Thus I decided that this year I was going to try and hit 100 Irish whiskies reviewed. Which I’m still trying for. I have them all batched up, however, /u/scotchchick handed me a sample a long while back (thanks!) and I really should get to it. So let’s have a preview.
Redbreast Lustau is meant to show off the use of sherry casks in Irish whiskey. From that one time I visited Ireland (and all those times I made sure to read ahead to alleviate the issues I have above), I noticed that sherry casks are an integral part of making Irish whisky. Redbreast specifically uses them quite a bit and thinking back, I’ve yet to have a non-sherried Redbreast.
So here we have an initial maturation in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks for a minimum of 9 years, and then a finish in Oloroso sherry casks that are first fill. Not only that, but the sherry comes from Bedegas Lustau in Jerez, giving us the name and coming full circle.
But what does this extra element do to the flavour? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $88.65 CAD at the LCBO
Cask Types: Combination of 9 and 12-year-old whisky aged in American and European, then finished in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks finish
Colour: 10YR 7/10
Nose: Brown sugar, cranberry, liquorice, sweet bread (not the meat), corn
Sherry influence is here, that’s for certain. Very wood forward though, so it’s competing with itself. Sweet elements, some spice to balance that.
Really it’s an Autumn feast in a glass. For the nose. You know, that thing we all do but never talk about, smelling. With our nose, not with our bodies.
I’m not explaining this well. Let’s move on.
Taste: Papaya, cherry, peach, cardamom, brown sugar
Spice, fruit (both tropical then local), and more sugar. The tropical may only show up once there, but it’s the star of the show, like it’s the 80s and someone wacky is on screen. See Beetlejuice, Roadhouse, Coming to America.
Finish: Musty, yeast, papaya, oak, ginger
Finish tries to go back to a traditional Irish flavour. And then like a wacky character, that tropical element jams itself right in.
Part of me likes it. Part of me realizes that when I talk to said wacky people in real life they usually either annoy me or at best are interesting for a short period of time. Not to mention make me worried that they are hiding something.
Not that I think this whiskey has any deep-seated mental issues. More it’s a simple Irish finish with a big tropical element that’s right in the middle.
Conclusion: Tropical heavy with some heat. It’s hot in places, but that’s normal for a younger dram. All in all I see where this was going, I think that the sherry on sherry may have been it’s downside. The papaya tropical issue is there. It’s sticking out. It’s not blending in, it’s yelling and acting like a dork.
Much like in most situations that aren’t movies, that can be an issue. That said, this is a nice sherry-forward daily drinker. Given how everyone and their sister is drinking Scotch and Bourbon, you can most likely find this on shelf. You can have it before or after a meal. And if you love papaya? Then it’s as good as going back to old 80s movies and watching with your nostalgia glasses.
World Whiskey review #328, Ireland review #87, Whiskey Network review #1547
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