Redbreast Kentucky Oak Edition is an exceptional Irish whiskey – Robb Report
Big whiskey brands like to tinker with their formula when they come up with new series and collections. It’s often more of a gimmick than anything, a marketing tool that uses a minor change in mashbill or maturation to supposedly produce a new flavor and ultimately entice you to buy more. of whiskey. So it was with a not insignificant grain of salt that I approached the new Redbreast Kentucky Oak Edition, the first in the Irish whiskey brand’s American Oak series. Redbreast has already given us a few variations on its proven Irish whiskey range, such as the Lustau and PX editions which have focused on the effects of sherry cask maturation. Kentucky Oak, however, takes things back to the bourbon cask, and the resulting whiskey is quite good, and most importantly very different from the Redbreast you’ve tried before.
“Redbreast is renowned for its heavy sherry influence,” master blender Billy Leighton said in a prepared statement. “That can often mean its ex-bourbon counterpart is overlooked, even though Kentucky white oak barrels, which previously held bourbon, are central to Redbreast’s DNA.” The base whiskey indeed has that DNA: a triple distilled Irish whiskey, made from a mashbill of malted and unmalted barley, matured in American oak bourbon casks and Spanish Oloroso sherry butts. But the whiskey is then placed in a set of virgin oak barrels that have been lightly toasted and charred for an additional three to seven months, the same type in which bourbon would be aged. 63 barrels were shipped to the Midleton Distillery outside of Cork, each made from wood from Elk Cave Farm, a Kentucky oak farm that uses sustainable methods to ensure both wood quality and availability future. The whiskey is not chill-filtered and bottled at a higher proof of 101, perhaps another nod to bourbon given that proof’s strong association with Wild Turkey (although Redbreast is owned by Pernod Ricard , Wild Turkey in Campari).
The effects of the virgin oak finish on this whiskey are pronounced and very pleasant. The nose has layers of vanilla, sandalwood and fresh green apple, with a hint of alcohol that doesn’t burn much considering the high ABV. There is also a bit of orange that lingers. On the palate, the classic red berry and spice notes from the sherry casks are reduced, superseded by rich toffee, toffee, creme brulee flavors and a pronounced oakiness that particularly stands out on the finish. This bottle isn’t cheap, but I would absolutely consider making an Old Fashioned with this whisky, and 101 proof means it can definitely stand up to a big ice cube.
So yes, this is essentially a cask-finished Irish whiskey, like so many other cask-finished Irish whiskeys. But the story behind the liquid is found in the translation of the flavors, and this cutting-edge, bourbon-style Irish whiskey is a bottle worth seeking out. If you’re still in doubt, try the Kentucky Oak Edition side-by-side with regular Redbreast and see for yourself just how processed this whiskey has been.
Buy now: $120
What our score means
- 100: It’s worth exchanging your firstborn for
- 95 – 99 At the Pantheon: A trophy for the firm
- 90 – 94 Awesome: An enthusiastic wink from friends when you pour them a drink
- 85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not special enough to seek aftermarket
- 80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, strong and reliable
- Below 80, it goes: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this.
Every week, Jonah Flicker tastes the hottest and most interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back every Friday for its latest review.