Actor Chris O’Dowd On Redbreast’s New Limited Edition, 12-Year-Old Irish Whiskey

The “Bridesmaids” actor is helping Redbreast save its avian mascot with a special edition birdfeeder bottle.

(Redbreast)

Actor Chris O’Dowd possesses that rare Irish gift for conveying biting wit and deep sincerity at the same time, and nowhere is that truer than when he cracks jokes about whiskey and birds. 

American audiences first took notice of O’Dowd as the Irish cop in Bridesmaids, and these days he’s in the new Netflix movie Slumberland alongside Jason Momoa, and the new animated Netflix feature My Father’s Dragon. He has a soft spot for birds that evolved out of his role in the bird-centric animated series Puffin Rock, a refreshingly chill kids’ show through which he eased many a parent (including myself) through lockdown stress with his calm narration.

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(Redbreast)

He’s since become the ambassador for Redbreast Irish Whiskey, a brand on a mission not only to make some of the world’s best whiskey but also to save the real-life version of their namesake mascot: the Robin Redbreast. 

Half the bird species on earth are in danger, and O’Dowd and Redbreast have partnered with the global charity, BirdLife International, to celebrate Robin Redbreast Day (November 17) and raise awareness of the growing threat to the common birds we take for granted.

To mark the occasion, Redbreast created a limited-edition birdfeeder bottle for their flagship 12-year-old whiskey, with each bottle sold triggering a donation to BirdLife. Additionally, every like or share of the video below will trigger a 25-cent donation to the cause of helping to keep the common bird common. 

We spoke to O’Dowd about how his boozy biography got him into whiskey, how two acting roles enlivened his fondness for bird-kind, and more.

As an Irishman, I assume you descended from alcoho—sorry, I mean whiskey enthusiasts. How did your partnership with Redbreast come about? 

I have a long history in booze if I’m honest with you. My family on my father’s side ran a bar in Cork, in the middle of town. It was an Early House called The Acorn. I started working in bars when I was fifteen, I briefly ran an Irish bar in Paris, and I’ve been a whiskey drinker since my mid 20s. I’m not lying when I say I am a big Redbreast fan, so when they got in touch, it was easy. And I do love a drop of it. 

Do you have a favorite in the Redbreast range? 

I like the twelve year old, but I’ve been tasting that 21 and… Whooo-La-Hooo-La. It really is delicious. 

Do you drink it on the rocks? 

I’ll have one big cube if I’m drinking late. If I’m having a cheeky afternoon drink, I’ll have a whiskey soda. 

My kids know you as the voice of Puffin Rock. So, when I heard about your Redbreast partnership, I already had a strong association with you and birds. 

And same for me, to be honest. I love that show. It was very useful with my own children and a lot of friends’ children because it’s so calm. It’s just me talking about lovely flowers and puffins and it was a great education for me in wildlife.

I got to do a little bit of preschool David Attenborough. I had a kid come up to me in a restaurant in New York, he must have been around six, and he came up and pointed at me and said, “Mommy that’s him!” Which is not what you want a kid in a restaurant to fucking shout to his mother. Then she came up and said, “Do you narrate a kids’ show called Puffin Rock?” Her kid knew me across the restaurant just from my voice, which was funny. 

I’m not surprised. I’m constantly reminded of how much more observant my children are than I am at this point.

It’s disgusting, really. 

How did the bird theme evolve in your life after that show? 

Increasingly over time, I found myself drawn back to nature. And birds are interesting to me because they are such a fundamental part of it and the most visible wildlife that we have. I was drawn into it, I suppose, by that show.

And then I did a movie called The Starling, and during prep for that film I went to a murmuration in Bristol. And it’s one of the most extraordinary sights I’ve seen in nature. Thousands of starlings flocking together as one, collectively, against the elements. It’s very life-affirming. So those two things together, it was like Redbreast had written it for me. And then they did. 

How long has this partnership been going on?

It’s the second year that I’ve been involved with it. And we’ve been making bird feeders in conjunction with BirdLife International that people have been putting up in their gardens. It reminds me of a time when we would collect stuff from cereal boxes.

How do these whiskey bottle bird feeders work?

It’s not really a bottle, it’s a copper encasement you hang on a tree, and it’s got a little tray for bird feed. They’re very cool because you’re actually helping. It’s all well and good us saying we’re drawing attention to the problems with falling numbers in common birds. But once we draw attention to it, what happens next? We’re obviously raising a lot of money for Birdlife International, which really does help with conservation, and then the bird feeder is really reminding people to…be careful of their cats. 

(Redbreast)

So, whiskey for the adults and a bird feeder for the kids to watch in the backyard? 

Oh, 100%. Throw a couple of bird feeders in the back yard, the kids love it. And it’s a fantastic thing. I’ve noticed that kids bring us back into nature. A conservation expert recently said such an interesting thing to me, he said, “People always ask me when I developed my interest in nature, and I always answer, ‘No, the question is when did you lose yours?’”

So, it’s lovely to be part of this, and these things seem symbiotic somehow. There’s something so beautiful about the Robin Redbreast. It’s the only bird that sings all year round. Everything else sings in the spring and the summer.

Your video is very funny. It’s interesting for me to see what a brand’s sense of humor is because it tells me a lot about how they see themselves. 

It doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s something lovely about the way that Redbreast have brought in the nature part of it. It’s very hard to tangibly know what to do when it feels like the world is on fire. But I think getting drawn into little things like this is just a little bit of something that feels like you’re collectively helping. And luckily, the whiskey is delicious. 

Find out more at https://www.redbreastwhiskey.com

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