Last night I was enjoying some Redbreast 12, and briefly discussed it with friends. This is truly a wonderful Irish Whiskey. It has class, smoothness, flavor, and style. It is a whiskey that is worthy of its accolades. Or is it?
Now don’t misunderstand me, I love RB12. If you have the funds to keep it stocked, by all means you will have a very nice pour, for yourself or your friends. It is wonderful. And I would wager you would be hard pressed to find people who didn’t like it. In fact many will simply LOVE it. But is it “all that”?
For me, I have to say, no. And the reason is that for almost half its price there are other fantastic whiskeys out there. If RB12 was a $35 bottle of whiskey I would sing its praises all day long. But at twice that price, I know I have several others on my shelves that I would grab before I pulled the cork on the bottle of RB12, and they cost at least $20 less per 5th.
Redbreast 12 is an easy sipper. It has class and flavor. It truly is a wonderful whiskey, but for me, I like a bit more attitude. The heat that was there when first opened has all but faded away with oxidation. Again, it makes for an easy sipper, but a bit too mild mannered for me as a daily pour. It is kind of like taking your friends out for a ride in a super plush, decked out Cadillac. Sure, it is a great car, and all can marvel about its smooth ride and comfort… but it isn’t a hug the twisties, and blow your hair back ride. None of you will get out and do the classic Tim Allen “man grunts”.
Now if RB12 had more spice, and was at at least 100 proof, NOW we are talking! And it seems the cask strength version does a much better job fitting that bill, but at a tad higher price. I will get that into rotation at some point, but it is a shame that with the standard expression (and its price) you don’t get… more.
I have to admit, it left me wanting. While I truly enjoyed the flavors, for what they were, I just wanted more bite, more heat, more attitude. I kept glancing over at my bottle of Power’s Signature Release, and wishing the RB12 was a bit more like it. And PSR comes in a good $20-$25 cheaper price point. (Though it too could be a tad higher proof… but I can’t complain since it hits so many other notes for me.)
So I find myself gravitating to high rye bourbons, spicy Irish, and non-botanical ryes, and higher proofs. And for me cost vs quality matters a lot. Being I don’t review for a living, keeping stocked a 30 bottle selection isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Less so when I don’t have an occasional pour, but cap my evenings off with a few pours consistently. This makes a whiskey like Redbreast 12, for me, a bit less desirable than its hype would otherwise indicate.
Should it always grace my shelf? Sure. It is a fantastic example of a well refined and easy sipping Irish Whiskey. I just won’t be pouring it nearly as often as the others that share its spot in my collection.