The Friend at Hand is a small whiskey shop in the heart of Belfast. I’ve never been to Northern Ireland but this retailer seems to be a lovely place with a great sense of history. They are a specialist whiskey retailer, with regular independent shop bottlings and events. A little old-fashioned perhaps, as they don’t seem to have an online presence.
One of their shop bottlings was this Readbreast All Sherry Single Cask, matured for 25 years. Cask #82858 was selected by Master Blender Billy Leighton in collaboration with Willie Jack from The Friend at Hand.
Redbreast 25 yo 1991 (53,5%, OB for The Friend at Hand, Belfast 2017, sherry cask #82858, 600 btl.)
Nose: impressively aromatic, with hints of sour berries, plenty of cassis, as well as cherry and blackberry jams. Raspberry and tangerine bring a brighter, more typically Irish note. Then some maracuja in the background. Gentle honey, subtle ginger and mild oak spice. Lovely hints of new leather and furniture polish too.
Mouth: holds the middle between Irish whiskey and cognac, really. Mango sherbet, passion fruits, later darker berries, redcurrants and cherries. Still some varnished notes and something that comes close to rancio. Crème de menthe and verbena, as well as other medicinal notes and bitter herbs. A faint coppery note. Then back to tobacco leaves and hints of fruit tea. A faint hint of salted chocolate in the background.
Finish: very long, with more chocolate notes, dried herbs and red berries. Always a cognac-y rancio underneath, as well as a light bitterness.
Maybe not the most traditional Redbreast profile, but boy, I love these sherry casks! In my book they’re a benchmark for pot still and sherry casks. This one is roughly on the same level as cask #42972 for La Maison du Whisky but I detected more bitterness this time. Originally around € 415, but long gone. I bought a sample from Drams Delivered.