Redbreast 21 Year Old Whiskey is a superb example of Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey which is triple-distilled from a mash of malted and unmalted barley.
Redbreast Irish Whiskey has existed since 1903, when the Jameson Whiskey distillery, located in Dublins Bow Street, began supplying new make whiskey in bulk to the Irish branch of Gilbeys wine & spirits merchants. Gilbeys, being an importer of various types of wines, already had a ready supply of good quality casks, which would be sent to the Bow St. distillery to be filled and returned for maturation in Gilbeys warehouses.
According to Irish Whiskey folklore, the managing director of Gilbeys was a keen ornithologist and named three of the companys Irish whiskeys after birds: Chaffinch, Yellowhammer and Redbreast. However, the Redbreast brand suffered when the Irish whiskey category fell on hard times in the early half of the 20th century and about forty years ago the contract to supply Gilbeys was terminated with the closure of the Bow St Dublin distillery in 1971. Gilbeys continued to bottle their aged stocks of Redbreast, but the whiskey wasnt great and by the mid-1980s the Redbreast brand had faded and in danger of disappearing completely.
Thankfully, in 1991 the Redbreast brand was revived by Midleton Whiskey and, along with stable mate Green Spot, Redbreast 12 year old kept the endangered pot still Irish whiskey category alive, for which Irish Distillers, and particularly the recently-retired Midleton Whiskey Master Distiller Barry Crockett, deserve great credit. Under new ownership after the Pernod Ricard takeover, Midleton Whiskey has been at the forefront of the wonderfully revitalised Irish whiskey scene in recent years.
The popularity of Redbreast Whiskey reached a turning point some years ago with its appearance on the shelves of some upmarket UK supermarkets, with the brands signature judiciously-sherried style winning over an ever-growing army of fans. New releases have followed, with the 15 year old, originally a one-off special for a French whiskey retailer, being added to the permanent range in 2010 and the impressive 12 year old cask strength launched at the end of 2011 to global whiskey praise.
In other words, this new Redbreast 21 year old had a lot to live up to. Its a small and exclusive release with a mix of light and heavy pot still spirit. Some of the casks used were up to 28 years old. In common with the 15 year old, Redbreast 21 Year Old Irish Whiskey is bottled at the higher strength of 46%.