Whiskey Reviews: Redbreast (27 Year Old, Dream Cask Ruby Port Edition)

Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Irish Distillers. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy links towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Range Fortification. Those two words could best describe the latest robust releases from Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish whiskey this year. Since the re-introduction of the brand by Irish Distillers Limited (IDL) in 1991, each new Redbreast release has garnered a significant review or accolade over the years, despite a small misstep in 2003 when there was an exclusive ‘pot still & grain blend’ (shock!) for a long standing distributor.

The major standout was in 2018, where Redbreast 21 Year Old was named Second Best Whiskey in the World, Best Irish Whiskey, and Best Irish Pot Still Whiskey in Jim Murray’s ‘Whisky Bible’. This achievement and others are a testament to the exhaustive maturation management and meticulous blending techniques at Midleton Distillery in Cork. Pulling from thousands of barrels, Redbreast Single Pot Still whiskey has hung its hat on sherry and bourbon casks for over thirty years much like their category counterparts, the Spots and majority of the Powers expressions.

However, this year marks Redbreast’s incorporation of Portugal’s beloved Douro Valley and the world of port. Released in March 2020, Redbreast 27 Year Old is the new, permanent addition to the line-up of Redbreast Lustau, 12, 15 and 21 Year Old. According to Midleton Distillery’s Master Blender Billy Leighton and Blender Dave McCabe, they “drew from their experience of working with sherry and other wine casks over the years; wanting to simultaneously push the boundaries and yet let the expression take its place at the head of the family.”

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Cask strength at 54.6 ABV, Redbreast 27 Year Old’s core makeup is first fill, refill bourbon and first fill oloroso sherry casks. The expression is simply ‘enrichened’ not finished with first-fill Ruby Port pipes. Ruby Port is an essential component to this milestone Irish whiskey.

Subsequently in May 2020, the introduction of Redbreast Dream Cask Ruby Port Edition was made to celebrate World Whisky Day 2020. The third Dream Cask in the series, it is the ‘first Redbreast expression to be fully finished in a single port cask.’ Aged for a minimum of 28 years old, the inspiration was clearly pulled from creating the Redbreast 27 Year Old permanent addition.

The makeup of this unique release is that of ex-bourbon barrels, a recasked sherry butt and a recasked Ruby Port cask. In a departure from the Redbreast line-up, these casks were then married together into a Ruby Port cask for 105 days. Bottled at 51.5 ABV, it was made available to members of its the brand’s The Birdhouse private online club one joins through its website and seres as a one off release.

Redbreast 27 Year Old

Redbreast 27 Year Old (image via Pernod Ricard)

Tasting Notes: Redbreast 27 Year Old

Vital Stats: 109.2 proof (54.6% ABV), malted & unmalted barley, aged for a minimum of 27 years in ex-bourbon, sherry and ruby port seasoned casks, price approx. $500 USD – 750ml

Appearance: bronze/ tarnished gold hue, slow to form wide, viscous legs on the side of the glass

Nose: Christmas cake, heather, nuttiness rounding out with honey graham cracker and stewed stone fruit

Palate: Rich and complex. Pear, nectarine and plum with a ton of baking spices and grassiness.

Finish: Stewed stone fruit comes back with a little fruit leather waxy. assertive finish and linger.

Score: 4/5

Redbreast Dream Cask Ruby Port Edition

Redbreast Dream Cask Ruby Port Edition (image via Irish Distillers)

Tasting Notes: Redbreast Dream Cask Ruby Port Edition

Vital Stats: 103 proof (51.5% ABV), malted & unmalted barley, aged for a minimum of 28 years in ex-bourbon, sherry and ruby port season casks then finished in a single ruby port cask, price approx. $535 USD – 500ml

Appearance: darker wildflower honey/ treacle, slow to form oily legs

Nose: Complex marriage of sweeter fruits like peach, mango, faint citrus with cinnamon

Palate: Richhh. Fig, apricot and raisin start with some fleshy plum and dark chocolate

Finish: Long, long finish. flared tannins, baking spices with excellent rounded out dark fruit.

Score: 4.5/5

Final Thoughts: It is of no surprise that Redbreast Single Pot Still Whiskey continues to be the shining beacon for Irish whiskey. 2020 has given the world more than the set of challenges particularly for whiskey collectors and aficionados. Redbreast 27 Year Old offers up an enrichened and confident extension of the core line-up.

In juxtaposition, Redbreast Dream Cask Ruby Port Edition is a stunner. The vatting of the interchangeable make up that is Redbreast Single Pot Still in this modern era then concentrated in a fresh Ruby Port pipe offers up a truly unique and delicious expression. No doubt with Irish Distillers importing 40-60 European Oak 500 liter port pipes annually, we will see continued experimentation.

Sweet Dreams are made of these.