Ah, Midleton on a Monday. I know I have previously used that line for Mortlach, but to be honest it feels better with Midleton. The name rolls smoothly off the tongue, much the same as the whiskey rolls smoothly over it. So what inspired me to drink a Midleton today? Nothing much, I just wanted something nice to drink today. Anyway, what is the Midleton Very Rare?
Those who read this blog are likely aware of it, but it doesn’t seem to have that much reach outside of Ireland. Started back in the far away year of 1984, Master Distiller Barry Crockett launched the range, the first of the “Luxury” line from Ireland, and labelled (on the bottle) as The Pinnacle of Irish Whiskey. See creating Whiskey is what Barry Crockett did. It’s what his father, Max Crockett did before him, and it’s what Brian Nation is doing now after him. The first of the Very Rare’s contained Whiskey laid down by Max Crockett at the Old Midleton Distillery, however as all of this liquid is gone today’s Very Rare’s are entirely New Midleton Distilled liquid, a marriage of Single Pot Still and Grain Whiskies. Released once a year since 1984, individually numbered bottles and signed by the Master Distiller, they make for collectors’ items generally, though truly are something worth trying should you find a bar stocking some at a decent price. The 2017 is a marriage of Single Pot Still and Grain whiskies between the young teens to early 30’s, exactly what the makeup is however is unclear.
While my glass was entirely wrong for nosing this Whiskey, the scents running off are clear; somewhere there is a wee bottle of floral perfume being sprayed intermittently as the scents of rose bushes move around us, giving a warm feeling of sitting on a backyard veranda in the morning overlooking some apple, peach and fig trees and some good bushes. In the distance there is a touch of ripe grape as well, possibly a grain whiskey reaching out and giving us a little wave. And then breakfast is served; pikelets with honey, strawberries and freshly peeled oranges on the side, before a bowl of custard, topped with caramel fudge, raisins and honey.
It looks to be desert on the palate however, with a texture of melted marshmallow and silken caramel, chocolate melting with rich butter starting to move over the tongue. We sit there popping lovely Praline chocolates, macadamia and Ferrero Roche into our mouths while sipping on a glass of warm Disaronno, vanilla essence, royal icing and marzipan lying beneath. We get underlying currents of pears, ginger and toffee, nothing dominating but everything quite happy where it is. The finish is long, but it is a touch shallow in the delivery, just a single coffee bean, piece of barley and one small chunk of vanilla to last us a good while.
While the whiskey does taste brilliant, it feels a bit wanting at points, and everything settled down together means that nothing really leaps out. Not a bad thing, but in the end it is the mouthfeel we are here for, not the taste. Beautiful and elegant, but almost something to be admired for what it represents, not what it is. Now, that is just the 2017. I’ve yet to try the 2018 (wow I am late on these releases) and any of the older years quickly spike in value. To give you an idea of how much the older bottles can cost, I drink with an old fella every now and then who has a bottle from each year. Received as gifts every year for Christmas, he tells me he doesn’t drink Whiskey, but once his grandchildren finish high school, he plans to sell the collection, pay for them to go to university, and take a wee trip with the wife. Today’s bottlings start at €180 each, but the older bottles easily fetch a few grand a piece. I just don’t have that type of money, but if he ever decides to crack a bottle open, I’ll be there to taste it.