John Hansell of The Malt Advocate writes about one of my favourite whiskeys, Redbreast 15 year old, in his latest blog entry. I wasn't aware that this bottling was produced especially for the 50th anniversary of La Maison du Whisky, a specialist whiskey retailer in France. Indeed, I've seen it for sale elsewhere, for example the Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin and The Whisky Exchange in London.
It's a pure pot still whiskey, which means it is entirely made in copper pot stills from malted barley combined with various unmalted grains. No grain whiskey (the lighter result produced from a different, continuous distillation process) is blended in before bottling.
It is also distinct from the somewhat more common Redbreast 12 year old in that it is bottled at a strength of 46% (rather than 40%) and is not chill filtered. Whiskey is typically chill filtered to remove any components that might cloud the whiskey during storage though these components also contribute to flavour.
The result is a very richly flavoured whiskey indeed. I was particularly amazed by the long, citrus finish (of which I am just reminding myself as I write). It certainly knocks even the finest blended whiskeys into a cocked hat.
This whiskey demands a return to the pure pot still style of whiskey manufacture. That is the root of Irish whiskey and now that the hard times have passed for Irish distilleries and premium spirits are once again in demand it is surely logical to return there.
Unfortunately there is no evidence that any distillery is thinking along these lines and John Hansell warns that there is no guarantee that Redbreast 15 year old will be made again. Alarmingly, my own bottle is running dry and I don't see the whiskey listed on the websites of the Celtic Whiskey Shop or The Whiskey Exchange any longer.