Redbreast is one of the most highly regarded Irish whiskeys, widely considered the foremost example of the traditional single-pot-still style.
The first official mention of Redbreast can be found in 1912, when merchant Gilbey’s sold “Redbreast JJ Liqueur Whiskey 12 Year Old”. It is known an early iteration of Redbreast was being produced many years before as John Jameson whiskey in the 19th and 20th century Irish whiskey bonding business model. During this time, all Irish whiskey was bonded. Hundreds of distilleries would sell their whiskey to third parties rather than bottle and brand it themselves. This practice died out with the Irish whiskey collapse in the 1930s.
The name Redbreast was given to the whiskey by the Gilbey’s chairman, an avid bird watcher, who said its Sherry-matured hue reminded him of the Robin Redbreast. During the 1920s, Redbreast picked up another nickname, “the priest’s bottle”, as many of the country’s clergy were said to have been comforted by a tipple during the turbulent period (with both the War of Independence and Civil War).
In 1985, the last Redbreast was bottled under the Gilbey’s banner, after Irish Distillers bought the brand name.
Redbreast is now produced at the Midleton distillery in Cork which produces the likes of Jameson, Powers, Midleton Very Rare and the Spot whiskeys in some of the largest pot stills in the world. Redbreast has continually been recognised in blind tasting competitions since Irish Distillers relaunched the brand in 2001.
The distillery has continued to release remarkable, single-pot-still whiskeys at an impressive rate under Master Blender Billy Leighton, including some very special cask-finished bottlings. Redbreast Mano a Lamh (exclusively matured in Sherry butts) and the Redbreast Dream Cask limited whiskeys have sold out in record time and become collectors’ items. Irish Distillers also bottles a much-loved 12 Year Old, Cask Strength Edition, and a 15, and 21 Year Old.
Thanks to its time in Sherry oak, Redbreast’s signature style is dry with fruity notes.