Whisky Advocate

Whisky Advocate Award: Irish Whiskey of the Year

February 4th, 2012

Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength, 57.7%, $65

In a normal year, any one of the six Irish whiskeys released in 2011 could have staked a claim as Irish whiskey of the year. But 2011 wasn’t normal, not least because in a normal year it’s not likely there would have been six releases in total, let alone six potential award-winning contenders. Unsurprisingly, given the last decade or so, Cooley was never far from the headlines, and the company bookended the year with Kilbeggan 18 year old and Greenore 18 year old at the beginning of it, and Connemara Bog Oak toward the end.

But it was the stunning triple whammy of single pot still whiskeys from Irish Distillers in between that provided the greatest surprise in a generation for the Irish whiskey category. All three were wonderful, but it was the last of them, the cask strength version of the much-loved 12 year old Redbreast, that carried off the honors.

A rich, bittersweet plummy, red berry, oaky-spiced delight, the increased strength gives an already great whiskey a richer, fuller, fruitier dimension, and makes an already complex whiskey…even more complex. For me that makes it not just the best Irish whiskey of this year, but of any. An utter joy. —Dominic Roskrow

The recipient of Whisky Advocate’s Japanese Whisky of the Year will be announced here, tomorrow.

No Responses to “Whisky Advocate Award: Irish Whiskey of the Year”

  1. John Hansell says:

    For the U.S. readers, I’m happy to say that this whiskey is heading our way and should get into circulation in the coming months.

  2. Jacob says:

    It’s not often that you try a regular 43 %, chill-filtered DB and think “this is great but I’d really love to try it non chill-filtered and higher ABV” and then it actually happens! I’m looking forward to this bottle more than any other.

  3. JC Skinner says:

    My fave of the year was Powers Johns Lane, because on price point it has to be the best value whiskey in the world right now. But the RB Cask Strength is something enormously special. Sumptuous, robust, delicate and with wave upon wave of flavours. They don’t make much of this, so there won’t be much travelling stateside, unfortunately.
    Worth noting too that this isn’t simply the regular RB bottled at CS. They handpicked each and every cask for this one, so it is actually quite a bit different from the regular and from the 15 yo.

  4. Everything they release is liquid gold. Great to hear it’s on the way this side of the Atlantic.

  5. H.Diaz says:

    …. more cask strength Irish whiskies, please. Black Bush cask strength would be a good start.

  6. JohnM says:

    I’d love to try a Blackbush cask strength.

    The Redbreast 12 CS is superb. I don’t know which of the new releases from Midleton I like the best. they all offer something different. And there’s more to come from them.

  7. Jobi says:

    If anyone has seen the Redbreast 12 CS on shelves in NYC, please let me know. I am literally salivating.

  8. Stevely says:

    An excellent whisky indeed and I believe at a great price too. I wonder if the Cooley purchase by Beam is going to have any affect on the product range in the coming years.

    • JohnM says:

      Maybe they’ll narrow the product range. Hopefully they’ll knock out a few more cask-strength Cooleys.

  9. Greg says:

    I’ve got 4 bottles set aside waiting for pick up. Looking forward to trying this release. Wish it had been available earlier, I’m kicking off a blind irish tasting (8 selections) and this would have been perfect.

  10. SMClay says:

    Opened my first bottle last night. Wow, truly remarkable whiskey! If the truth be told, from this day forward no “whiskey advocate’s” collection can be considered complete without this one. Red Breast 12 43% is a wonderful experience, one of the few bottles that I always try to keep a reserve bottle on hand. It has become the bottle against which I compare all others.
    The BR 12 Cask Strength has elevated the experience to a whole new plane. Do yourself a favor, when you are lucky enough to find it, buy two! Once you has experience this one you will not want to chance running out.

  11. Luke says:


    The RB12CS is spectacular, but don’t neglect to get a bottle of Powers John’s Lane 12 if you get the chance – for comparison if no other reason. It is stunning.

  12. Brian says:

    Brought home two bottles after a recent trip to Dublin. It was available at the Duty Free stand at the airport, so it is easy to obtain if you happen to travel to Ireland. 42 euros was the price; $56.50 U.S. at today’s conversion rate.

    Agree with prior reviews. As much as I enjoy RB 12 and RB 15, I though this was better yet. More citrus and fruit on the nose than RB 12, lots of kick on a long finish. Sherry, dried fruits, whiff of banana, vanilla. A friend who loves bourbon found a sweetness of taste that reminded him of his favorite drams. Remember that its 57.5% alcohol!!

  13. […] Now then, Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength Irish Whiskey. Redbreast has long been one of Middleton Distillery’s crown jewels and until last year pretty much the only Pure Pot Still…excuse me, Single Pot Still Irish whiskey available outside Ireland. They expanded the range with the fantastic 15 Year Old in 2010 and then late last year, they unleashed this beauty on us. Much like the original 12 Year Old, this version has been aged in combination of ex-bourbon casks and Oloroso Sherry casks. This first “batch” has been vatted from 68 barrels and has been bottled, like its name suggests, at cask strength, non chill-filtered and free of artificial coloring. Redbreast has been one of my favorite whiskies since it first hit my lips in Ireland more than 10 years ago so needless to say I’ve been a little excited about this one, and I’m apparently I’m not the only one as the stuff is flying off the shelves and gathering up awards left and right. […]

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