In May 2015 at the launch of Midleton’s Dair Ghaelach, the Irish Whiskey world was promised a new pot still release every year for the next few years. As you can imagine, an announcement like this, at a time when most distilleries are tightening the bolts on the warehouse doors, was met with a fever of excitement and a small amount of suspicion.
Rumours began to fly immediately. This announcement was made at the release of Dair Ghaelach in May 2015, people were afraid that they might have to wait until the tail end of 2016 before they saw another bottling released.
So the question is, did they have to wait? Not even close. Irish Distillers have blown passed this promise and now with the imminent arrival of a new Redbreast we see single pot still release number 4.
Single Pot Still releases since May 2015:
Irish Distillers have been teasing the Irish whiskey community recently, by producing single cask editions of Redbreast whiskey which were not available for purchase in the island of Ireland. These included the likes of the whisky exchange’s 1999 all sherry single cask and the Redbreast 25 year old produced for La Maison du Whisky which is launching at this year’s Whisky Live Paris.
Well now Irish Distillers have decided to tease the whiskey community a once more but in a way I think we all prefer. They have begun to hint at a new general release Redbreast. On August 1st Irish Distillers uploaded the unmistakable image of the neck of a Redbreast bottle. The image bore the words the words “Sssh, we’ve something exciting coming soon”. Now this was extremely exciting news, although it didn’t look like a new addition to the age statement family was coming. Redbreast regular release age statement bottles (12, 12CS, 15 & 21) usually sport a crimson red neck sleeve, although, the image of the new arrival is wearing a dark orange sleeve in its place. This is not unlike the sleeve found on the bottle of Redbreast Mano A Lamh (an all sherry limited edition Redbreast).
Of course, this clever marketing hook caught most of us up in the rumour mill. Several hypotheses flew around but the most held belief was that we were about to witness the release of a Lustau Edition Redbreast. This was due to savvy whiskey enthusiasts trolling through the recent publications of the “Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau” (TTB) in the United States. What many people might not know is that to get a new product approved to be sold in the United States they must first clear the labelling and bottle image with this agency. Once the TTB clears a new label or bottle design for the US market they publish this information publicly online.
I’m sure this is a great annoyance to alcohol companies but it’s a great resource used by those who wish to find out what new whiskeys are coming down the line! Thus, in May this year the TTB published a certificate for Redbreast Lustau Edition to enter the United States. It was in this publication that the whiskey community was presented with this label.
The orange colour theme of the label is a very close match for that of the orange neck sleeve in the teaser photo. Furthermore, the document also included an image of a bright orange cork for the bottle which once again matches the colour scheme in the teaser above. Clearly the similarities in the packaging between the Lustau edition and the recent image from Irish Distillers were too obvious not to miss. For two weeks the whiskey community could do little more than speculate and read up on Lustau Bodega, waiting for more information to be released.
This evening (August 15th) Redbreast Whiskey released this image (below) with the same clever marketing hook “Sssh, we’ve something exciting coming soon”. The information in this image is more forthcoming. The team in Irish Distillers left a little hint on the head of the barrel for what the new whiskey might be.
The barrel in the image is adorned with a family crest right in the centre. I think that this was a very clever little additional teaser for the release of the next whiskey. After first seeing this image I quickly pulled up an image of the Lustau Bodega crest to see if they matched. If you take a look at the image below I think you might agree that they do.
I think that this is about as solid of a pre-confirmation that the new Redbreast is the Lustau Edition, that we’re going to get. I think this has been a very clever marketing campaign from Irish Distillers. Subtle hints to the new product. Less is more style of marketing which gained excitement and speculation around the new release. Furthermore, if you were unaware of the Lustau connection from the beginning, I’m sure you would still be none the wiser what the product was going to be. I know personally, had I not known to look for Lustau I would not have been able to identify that crest of arms.
I for one am very excited to taste another all sherry finish Redbreast whiskey. Mano a Lamh was a great testament to the quality of sherry barrels that Irish Distillers have in their Midleton distillery and if the reputation of Lustau sherry is half what its meant to be I’m sure this will be a very interesting whiskey indeed!
So I’m sure you are all wondering… what is a Lustau Sherry Edition Redbreast going to taste like?
Well, according to the tasting notes submitted to the TTB by Pernod Ricard USA (assuming these are in-fact the same product) the notes are as follows:
Nose: Rich infusion of dark fruits, prunes, dates and figs with liquorice, marzipan, toasted oak and Redbreast spices.
Taste: Creamy pot still with Redbreast spices balanced with richness of sherry finish and contribution of fresh Spanish oak.
Finish: Endless. Sweetness and Pot Still spices endure while oloroso sherry and Spanish oak have the last word.
I think these tasting notes sound amazing. Midleton manages some fantastic fortified wine casks and the first word of the finish being “endless” has me excited to experience the real depth and character this whiskey is promising to have.
To finish, I want to say that this is all my own personal speculation. I feel that the information that I have put forward in this article is a accurate interpretation of the information available in the market at the moment. I personally hope I am correct as those tasting notes sound amazing, I guess, time will tell.