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Why Redbreast’s new Tawny Port Edition might be my new favourite Irish whiskey

Taste testing Redbreast’s latest expression in the Iberian Series...

Why Redbreast’s new Tawny Port Edition might be my new favourite Irish whiskey
18 September 2023

The resurgence of Irish whiskey continues with a head of steam and world-renowned brand, Redbreast has launched a new limited edition as part of its Iberian Series and ShortList was privileged to be among the first to try it.

The testing took place in Portugal’s Douro Valley near Porto, which is not simply a stunning location to launch a new whiskey but imperative to the new expression’s profile. This is the Tawny Port Edition and the connection to the spirit was clear to see as we were taken through the hills, wrapped in vineyards, by land (rover), water (by traditional Rabelo boat) and (hot) air (balloon).

Redbreast has a long history with the cooperages and winemakers from the Iberian Peninsula and following on from the PX (Pedro Ximenez) Edition launched in 2021.

Revealed to us by Master Blender Billy Leighton, as well as Blender Dave McCabe, in the stunning setting of Quinta da Pachec’s vast wine cellar, the Redbreast Tawny Port Edition is one fans will be eager to get their hands and taste buds on. It’s set to be just as popular as the PX which sold out in the UK and US before it went on general sale.

I’m personally not often a fan of things, whether it be whiskey, beer or otherwise, aged in red wine casks (despite being a red wine drinker). However, Redbreast and Port appear to be a match made in heaven. This was highlighted by just how much I enjoyed one of the Redbreast cocktails on the trip called Hidden Treasure - a blend of the Lustau edition, port, bitters and soda water.

A delectable and delightful dram

As is typical for Redbreast, the whiskey has been initially aged in bourbon and oloroso sherry casks but then finished in ex-port wine casks. The spirit has been left for its final phase of maturation for between 14 and 25 months. These hogshead casks are smaller than most giving a higher ratio of contact between the liquid and wood.

The result is a delectable and delightful dram which is somehow both complex yet very approachable. Encouraged by Leighton not to dive straight in, the aromas bring both familiar sweet butterscotch notes intwined with the distinctive heady scent of port.

Take a sip and the first thing you notice is how creamy and viscous the spirit is, really coating the mouth like with a syrup-like quality. It tastes sweet, too, but it’s far from sickly with plenty of balanced flavours coming to the fore.

It’s spicy, almost like rye, and fruity, too with the richness of the port adding a robust note of dark cheery. figs and blackberry - an apt combination as we head into the autumn and winter months.

Further sips reveal more layers of flavour including toasted almond, caramel and oaky vanilla.

Redbrest Tawny Port Edition, bottled at 46% abv, is available now with a recommended price of £86 and you might want to be quick if you want to nab a bottle.