In mid January, Midleton distillery released their latest iteration of the Redbreast Irish whiskey range. The Redbreast Small Batch Cask strength is a limited release exclusive to the US market. Information regarding the release was slow to emerge sparking much speculation as a result. Having participated in a virtual tasting with the makers from Midelton distillery, we can relay what this release is all about and dispel some of the rumors.
First, this release is a one off. It is not going to replace the existing 12 year age statement cask strength version. It is not liquid from the prior 14 year small batch US only releases from October 2019. So what is it?
This non age statement (NAS) release consists of 9-10 year regular Redbreast liquid from the usual bourbon and sherry casks that receives extra finishing. Liquid was taken from 50 original barrels and placed into 18 larger Oloroso Sherry butts for 70 days of finishing.
The goal for this release according to Dave McCabe from Midleton was to stay true to the Redbreast family range but offer a unique flavor profile. Consumers can think of this somewhat like a cask strength version of the regular Lustau edition. It differs from Lustau since it is cask strength at 58.7% abv and finished in sherry for a much shorter time (70 days vs. 1-2yrs for Lustau).
One final comment on a source of potential confusion. The B1/19 indication on the label may be misleading as consumers have taken this to mean it is part of multiple batch releases similar to the normal age statement cask strength release labeling. This is not the case. While it is the first batch from 2019, there will be no subsequent batches. The labels were made at the end of 2019 for a pending one time release; however, COVID delayed plans and the whiskey did not come to market until 2021.
The price for this release has varied by state but was originally listed for around $119. Why more expensive than the older age statement cask strength Rebreast? The one time, limited release exclusive to the US market creates scarcity and demand. Market prices have reacted accordingly base on perusal of the internet and usual shopping sites. Collectors are in full force. For Rebreast fans who choose to drink it (I did) you will not be disappointed.