Redbreast Dream Cask 32yo

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Last weekend amongst all the hubbub of a Royal Wedding, the FA Cup final, and World Whisky Day, a very exciting whisky was launched. I avoided all the aforementioned chaos with The Drinks Lady by escaping to the Scottish Borders to visit the Borders Distillery in Hawick (more on that soon), however this also meant I missed the online launch of possibly the most hotly-anticipated Irish whiskey of the year; Redbreast Dream Cask 32 years old. It’s not all doom and gloom though – the lovely folks at Irish Distillers sent me this rather stunning press pack containing all sorts of Redbreast-related ephemera, including a rather generous sample of the liquid. But what exactly is a dream cask?

Imagine you’re the master blender of a huge distillery with incredible stocks. Then imagine your boss tells you to pick out your favourite single cask – quite literally anything from any warehouse. And then imagine you showcase that liquid at a special event at World Whisky Day 2017 and the response is so overwhelming that your boss says it simply has to be bottled and released. That’s pretty much what happened to Redbreast (and Jameson) Master Blender, Billy Leighton. Fast forward to 4pm on World Whisky Day 2018 and all 816 bottles from Billy’s dream cask are ready to be sold around the world. And it didn’t take long to sell out. By 10:30pm that same evening, every bottle had been sold via Redbreast’s online members’ club, The Birdhouse. So what did these lucky 816 people get for their €500? Something quite sublime, but we’ll get to that in a mo. The single pot still whiskey itself was filled into refill American Oak ex-bourbon barrels on October 31st 1985, before being transferred into a first fill Oloroso sherry butt on March 8th 2011 and bottled earlier this year at 46.5% ABV.

Redbreast Master Blender, Billy Leighton, commented: “In almost 40 years as a blender, Redbreast Dream Cask is a real highlight as I am able to select my own, personal dream Irish whiskey and share it with the world. Our inaugural tasting in 2017 was by far the largest whiskey tasting I have ever held, and the feedback we have received from the whiskey community on the liquid has been phenomenal, so it’s an honour to see it bottled to mark World Whisky Day 2018 – and watch this space for our 2019 plans.”

Brendan Buckley, Strategy, Insight, Innovation & Prestige Whiskeys Director at Irish Distillers, added: “What started out as a celebration of Redbreast on World Whisky Day has developed into the release of a limited edition directly requested by Redbreast fans. We didn’t know it then, but World Whisky Day 2017 was just the beginning for Redbreast Dream Cask and we look forward to what Billy Leighton, and his apprentice Dave McCabe, will find in our Midleton warehouses in the years to come.”

Before we even think about future Dream Casks, here’s what I made of this one.

Redbreast Dream Cask 32 years old
1985 Vintage
816 bottles
46.5% ABV
€500 SOLD OUT

Nose: Oh my word. Blueberry reduction, plum jam, blackcurrants, blood orange, fig rolls, stewed apricots and overripe bananas jump out the glass. Then there’s some port soaked raisins, aromatic baking spices, chocolate truffles, cherry liqueur and gentle, juicy, soft oak.

Palate: Coats the whole palate in a cacophony of sweet hay and freshly cut grass, chocolate limes, strawberries with meringue, floral honey, orange blossom and peach cobbler. There’s aromatic spice too; pink peppercorn and cinnamon, along with jasmine tea, gentle, austere oak and a hint of cask char. Just wonderful. A shining example of a perfect harmony between distillate and oak.

Finish: Becomes a touch more perfumed and floral, with some warming woodspice and a lick of cask stave joining the wisps of darker fruits.

Overall: Utterly fantastic. It’s difficult to put into words, and to be honest, that’s all you really need to know. The liquid is so ethereally beautiful, focussed yet hugely complex, and simultaneously subtle yet bold, that I’m struggling to critically analyse it. Yes, the price is eyewatering, but sometimes you taste a whisk(e)y so remarkable that the visceral experience pushes everything else to one side. A ‘dream cask’ indeed.

 

 

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