$$$$ — 46% ABV — 15 years
One of the stalwart examples of the quality of Irish whiskey, Redbreast actually starts with the same liquid as Jameson. Friends and not-so-friends of good ol' John take note: many crucial decisions in whiskey making take place after distillation, and Redbreast proves this more than most.
Like all Jameson whiskey, both malted and 'green' barley is used in the mash. This technique began as a way to help mitigate the exorbitant taxes of the 18th century, but held on as less smoke made way for more of the signature floral flavors of Irish whiskey to shine through. If Scotch smells like a forest, Irish is a grove.
This does however mean Redbreast can't be marketed as a single malt, which turns off a lot of snobby purists — and that's too bad because Redbreast is made for connoisseurs. It's matured in both oloroso sherry barrels as well as bourbon barrels, tempering fruit with spice. Holiday flavors doesn't even scratch the surface.
The 15 year, while certainly a bottle for an occasion, is far superior as the 12 year is normally sold at a lower ABV. The 15 is a perfect 46%, is not filtered and three additional years seems to have brought even greater complexity balance of flavors. There's a 21 year available as well, which offers a contrast between young and old. For many reviewers, this is the reigning king of Ireland.
Jameson Redbreast of Irish Distillers is located in Midleton, Cork in southern Ireland. Established in 1780 by John Jameson, it was historically sold exclusively by W. & A. Gilbey and is now owned by Pernod-Ricard.