Redbreast 12 y/o, Cask Strength

Maker: Irish Distillers, Midleton, County Cork, Ireland (Pernod-Ricard)Redbreast 12 CS

Style: Single Pot Still (distilled in a pot still using malted and unmalted barley)

ABV: 59.9%

Notes: Unchillfiltered.

Michigan State Minimum: $65

Appearance: Dark copper (color probably added) with long, thick legs.

Nose: Rich and powerful. Caramel, butterscotch, old fashioned bourbon, leather, alcohol. Water opens it up a little and dials down the alcohol burn.

On the palate: Full bodied and sweet. Vanilla nougat, homemade caramels, chocolate covered toffee bars and bourbon with a big hit of alcohol on the tail end. Again, a splash of water tones down the burn but here it also obliterates the chocolate notes.

Finish: Classic Irish finish. Sweet cereal with a little bit of rubber and a lot of tingle all around the mouth as it fades slowly. Water opens it up and brings the cereal notes to the fore.

Parting words: Irish Distillers is the largest producer of whiskey in Ireland, producing two of the biggest brands of Irish whiskey worldwide, Jameson’s and Power’s. Redbreast is their high-end line of Single Pot Still (as opposed to blended) whiskey. The other expressions are the the standard Redbreast 12 y/o which I reviewed back in 2011, the 15 y/o and the new 21 y/o.

I loved the standard 12 y/o. This is even better, and at just $5 more it’s a fantastic bargain. The one off note I detected was the rubbery note, but it only shows up in the finish and dissipates quickly. Rubber or not, Cask Strength Redbreast is a truly great whiskey. It is exquisitely balanced but powerful and full of Irish character. It’s the best Irish whiskey I’ve ever had and one of my favorite spirits of any type. Redbreast Cask Strength is highly recommended.

Plymouth Gin

Maker: Black Friars, Plymouth, Devon, England, UK (Pernod-Ricard)Plymouth Gin

Style: Plymouth Gin

ABV: 41.2%

Michigan State Minimum: $35

Appearance: Clear.

Nose: Juniper, angelica, iris, coriander, citrus zest.

On the palate: Sweet and delicately spicy. Juniper, root spices, Clementine.

Finish: Spicy and fairly hot. A little bit of sweetness lingers on the lips for quite a while.

Mixed: Gets a little lost in a Tom Collins, but good in a G & T with quality tonic. Makes a wonderful dry martini well-chilled going easy on the vermouth.

Parting words: Plymouth is both a style of gin and brand of gin in addition to being a city (or two). The name is protected under EU regulations. In days gone by there were more than just one gin distiller in Plymouth, but there has only been Plymouth in Plymouth for quite a while now.

Stylistically, it’s between a London Dry and an Old Tom. It has the spice and juniper of a Dry but the delicate body of an Old Tom. It is fantastic in martinis and similar cocktails, adding elegantly balanced flavors and the right amount of body.

It’s a little too expensive to be an everyday, go-to type gin (except for those with bigger budgets) but it’s perfect for sophisticated classic cocktails. It also comes in a navy strength version at 57% ABV for just $5 more. Plymouth Gin is recommended.