Redbreast Irish Whiskey, created by Irish Distillers at Midleton Distillery, is embarking on an exciting new chapter as it unveils a dedicated whiskey collection for the United States. The American Oak series celebrates the influential and integral role of native wood in the production of Redbreast Irish Whiskey, giving provenance to the wood and unique American Oak influences to the whiskey.
The first limited release in the innovative series, Redbreast Kentucky Oak Edition, is made from malted and unmalted barley, triple distilled in copper pot stills and matured in American Oak Bourbon barrels and Spanish Oloroso sherry butts, before being finished for a period of 3 to 7 months in naturally air-dried PEFC certified American Oak sourced from the Taylor Family’s Elk Cave Farm in Kentucky. These casks have been hand selected for finishing, using the best quality white oak, to impart additional sweet notes of vanilla and elevated wood spices.
“Redbreast is renowned for its heavy sherry influence,” explains Master Blender Billy Leighton. “This can often mean that its ex-bourbon counterpart is overlooked, even though Kentucky white oak barrels, which have previously held bourbon, are central to the Redbreast DNA. This series explores the role American white oak plays in the composition of Redbreast, and takes it one step further, with a final flourish in virgin casks to enable the wood contribution to truly take center stage.”
Seeking the best quality barrels, Leighton and the team at Midleton Distillery partnered with the owners of Elk Cave Farm, Clifton and sons Steven and Scott Taylor, to source high grade white oak from their 1,300-acre tree farm. As committed environmentalists, the Taylor family have championed sustainable farming practices since purchasing the land in 1959 and today are recognized across the country for the award-winning methods used on their farm. Under the Taylor family’s guardianship, Elk Cave Farm has become renowned for successfully applying the oak shelterwood system in their mature oak forests. Shelterwood, a forestry technique that emphasizes early tending of young oak seedlings by improving forest light conditions and reducing competitors, has proven successful in the Taylors’ mission to sustainably manage their oak forests. In addition, these productive oak forests will provide valuable wildlife habitat, clean water and fresh air today and for future generations.
Once felled, sawn and air dried, the oak was worked into 63 casks and shipped to Midleton Distillery, Co. Cork, to be filled with a bespoke batch of Redbreast whiskey. Leighton and his team diligently monitored the barrels until the perfect balance of flavor, aroma and wood contribution had been achieved.
Further reinforcing Midleton’s pioneering spirit, the result is luxuriously smooth and distinctly Redbreast with an additional layer of sweet vanilla and elevated wood spices imparted from the virgin Kentucky casks. Bottled at 101 proof (50.5% ABV), the non-chill filtered whiskey effortlessly balances the pot still spices and dried fruit with the intricate aroma of freshly cut cedarwood and decadent notes of almond and brown sugar toffee for an elevated flavor profile.
“Crafting this whiskey has been a journey of discovery,” adds Leighton. “From learning about the trailblazing work of the Taylor family improving the sustainability of America’s oak forests, to exploring the region’s influence upon our whiskey, all of which has shaped this deliciously complex whiskey. The Kentucky Oak series demonstrates Redbreast’s continued evolution, setting the bar for subsequent expressions in the series.”
Scott Taylor adds: “Our family is honored to work alongside the Redbreast team, witnessing first-hand their passion and dedication to creating great tasting whiskey. Much like whiskey making, tree farming requires patience and faith that future generations will reap the benefit of decisions we make today. It has been incredibly rewarding to watch this project come to fruition and to see our home-grown Kentucky oak shape the flavor of a Redbreast Irish Whiskey.”
Redbreast Kentucky Oak will be exclusively available in the US beginning in June at a minimum SRP of $95.99.
Nose: Opens with notes of freshly cut cedarwood, almond and vanilla, while succulent dark berries resting on new oak shavings enhance the sweet fruit and warming charred wood influences, complementing the pot still spices.
Taste: Spices to the fore of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove that continue to build over time working in tandem with the oak’s rich tannins while balanced with autumnal fruit notes that delicately linger in the background along with sweet and decadent notes of brown sugar toffee and vanilla.
Finish: Lasting finish with the fruits the first to slowly fade, leaving the pot still spices to linger effortlessly in harmony with the sweet tones and intricate nature of the American oak.