Whisky Advocate

Whisky Advocate Award: Irish Whiskey of the Year

December 14th, 2013

Redbreast 21 year old, 46%, $180

I was going to say that the performance of Irish Distillers over the last couple of years marks the greatest comeback in modern times, but that honor has to go to the astonishing antics of the U.S. America’s Cup sailing team. Nevertheless, the owners of Jameson have well and truly Redbreast 21 Year Oldsnatched the initiative back from its competitors, and this year it pulled off a highly surprising double.

Shortly after our Irish whiskey edition, Irish Distillers held a “housewarming” and unveiled a new training center, new stills, and plans for twenty new pot still whiskeys in the next ten years. Then just a couple of weeks later, they unleashed this.

In a few short years Irish whiskey has been turned on its head. The Teeling family started the revolution at Cooley, but now Irish Distillers has carved out a separate path and firmly re-established the unique, distinctive, and wonderful pot still whiskey style.

Redbreast 21 year old completes a hat trick for Irish Distillers, but this is by far and away the best Irish release of the year. It’s an immense whiskey: oily, spicy, rich, gloopy, and with red berries, menthol, and citrus abundant. It’s complex, too, but you don’t have to live with it long to realize what a gem it is. And very well judged: the oak and spice suggest that these first fill bourbon and sherry casks had reached the edge of a cliff.

Sensibly the strength is bang on the money, too, and almost certainly a cask strength version would not have worked. Heaven only knows if Irish Distillers can continue to raise the bar like this. It’s going to be fun watching them try though. Stunning. Again. —Dominic Roskrow

We hope you’re enjoying these: the Japanese Whisky of the Year is next up, tomorrow.

11 Responses to “Whisky Advocate Award: Irish Whiskey of the Year”

  1. Mark S says:

    As soon as I read the press release for Redbreast 21, I knew it was a shoe in for Irish whiskey of the year. So, unsurprising, but well deserved nevertheless. Here’s hoping for more great whiskey from ID, and the category in general.

  2. This is an award that could well read “Whiskey of the Year”. By prefixing ‘Irish’ many will believe a narrow competitive base whereas this whiskey will outshine any in this age expression. Congratulations for choosing such an exceptional whiskey.

  3. Luke says:

    Exceptionally good Whiskey!

    A large proportion of the Vatting is 27/28 Year Old Jameson “Trad Pot” – not to be seen for a very long time to come :(

    I’ve heard on the grapevine that there will only be around 10,000 bottles released in total, between this year and next, and then it’s gone for the forseeable future.

    Get some while it’s going…

  4. Dom Roskrow says:

    I’m very proud of my awards this year but this was one I worried about. Three Irish Distillers pot still whiskeys in a row? But this was the best Irish whiskey this year. End of story. And yes, a contender for the world’s best whiskey this year.

  5. Jim Clarke says:

    This is a monster whiskey. I’m disappointed at the European price point, which is just as monster. Anyone stateside should consider the dollar price as an absolute steal.

  6. Zac says:

    Has anyone found these on the shelves yet? Or have they come and gone already?

  7. Zac says:

    Nevermind, found one yesterday!

  8. Marcella says:

    All Star Liquors in California has them on the shelf at both of their locations.

  9. James says:

    I’ve only seen one in the southern Kansas City area and I snatched it up right away despite the high cost. It sat in the collectors cabinet of my local liquor store for a few weeks with no bites. Finally, I decided my next big whiskey purchase would be this one. So glad I took the leap.

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