I'm a lucky git sometimes! When Redbreast Whiskey asked their 23 thousand Facebook followers if they would like to experience their new expression the Redbreast Dream Cask, I signed up immediately not expecting to be one of the lucky few to win... however, I was! :-)
The official release of the new whiskey was at 4pm on Saturday May 19th, World Whisky Day. Unfortunately for me, my tasting kit didn't arrive in time for me to join in with the video interview with Master Blender Billy Leighton. This gentleman hand selected the 32 year old single pot still Irish whiskey, and if you watch the video back, his passion for the spirit is obvious! He's a softly spoken chap, his voice is almost soporific! but the joy on his face when he's nosing the whiskey, and the obvious pleasure he's getting on the palate is a great advert for the dram!
Anyway... on to the tasting kit. Not only was I treated to a generous 100ml bottle of the Dream Cask, but there was a smart glass, a Birdhouse pin badge, a pen and a wooden coaster. Much more than I was expecting! Now lets move on to the whiskey itself...
What we have here is a 32 year old, non chill filtered, single pot still Irish Whiskey. The spirit was distilled in 1985 and aged in refill American oak ex-Bourbon barrels for 26 years, before then being transferred into a first-fill oloroso Sherry butt for an extended finishing period. It was bottled at a strength of 46.5% abv. It's a very dark amber in hue, almost resembling breakfast tea, and has real legs in the glass.
On the nose: Big sherry influences on the nose... rich, sumptuous and sweet. Stewed apples and raisins mingle with butterscotch and a sort of sweet polished leather scent. There are notes of sweet red berries and blueberry after time too. It's very complex, there are other things going on that on a different night I'd undoubtedly pick up.
On the palate: Again, a big sherry influence. Raisins and prunes, some warming spices like clove, a hint of dry walnut too.
On the finish: Sort of grapey tartness (like chewing on grape skins) lingers, with hints of tobacco too. It dries out after a little while, but the overall finish is very long, balanced and satisfying.
A limited number of bottles was made available for purchase on May 21st via the Redbreast Birdhouse (www.redbreastwhiskey.com/thebirdhouse) priced at 500 euros a bottle. It sold out within six hours! It's an expensive dram, but very fine and considering it is (I believe) their oldest expression to date, arguably worth expense. A little out of my price range though unfortunately, but I was very happy to have been given the opportunity to try it.