Whisky Advocate Award: Irish Whiskey of the Year
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.