Midleton Very Rare 2020

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It’s amazing how quickly a year can pass, especially when half of it has been spent in some sort of lockdown. Just over a year ago I made a flying, 18 hour, visit to Dublin to attend a wonderful dinner and tasting at The Shelbourne hotel. It was hosted by now-former Midleton Master Distiller Brian Nation to launch the Midleton Very Rare 2019 Vintage. It might have passed quickly, but a lot can change in a year. Nation has now moved to the other side of the Atlantic to take on the role of Master Distiller at O’Shaughnessy Distilling Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is set to open next summer. Taking over as Master Distiller at Midleton is Kevin O’Gorman, a guy who has been at Midleton since 1998 and who started his career, like Nation, under the tutelage of legendary Master Distiller Barry Crockett.

This year’s Midleton Very Rare expression is essentially Nation’s parting gift from Irish Distillers. For this year’s blend, he has chosen casks of single pot still whiskey and grain whiskey aged between 13 and 35 years old, all matured in lightly charred ex-bourbon barrels. The percentage of pot still whiskey is higher compared to previous editions, reflecting Nation’s love of that style of whiskey.

Speaking of the launch of this new whiskey, newly appointed Master Distiller, Kevin O’Gorman, said: “As a colleague and friend to Brian for many years, I could not be prouder to present his final Midleton Very Rare vintage and his legacy as Irish Distillers’ Master Distiller to consumers across the globe. Selected each year with passion and precision, this expression offers an initial burst of tangy fruity sweetness on the palate, with pot still spices building over time to add a mild prickle of chili oil. Indeed, Brian’s love of a single pot still gleams clearly from this exceptional whiskey, while preserving the balance and beauty for which Midleton Very rare is renowned.”

Midleton Very Rare 2020
Irish Blended Whisky
40% ABV
€180 RRP

Nose: A real confectionery sweetness initially, with sugar cane, candyfloss, and vanilla fudge. Then some peach, pear skins, ripe banana and lemon zest along with some spiced apricots. Some freshly chopped logs add a woody element.

Palate: Soft, velvety mouthfeel, with green orchard fruits, barley sugars, vanilla icing, sweet iced buns, pineapple humps, marzipan, and peaches in syrup. Lemon bon bons and orange peel ad a citrusy zing.

Finish: The spices come through now, with cinnamon, nutmeg and white pepper, along with some candied ginger and lingering oak.

Overall: Absolutely delicious, and a fitting end to Brian’s tenure at Midleton. The interplay between the single pot and grain whisky is seamless, resulting in a very well integrated whiskey. The spices, juicy fruits, and citrus notes combine to make for a very satisfying dram. My only gripe is the ABV – I think this would be immeasurably better bottled at even 46% ABV, and I can only imagine how good this would be if it were bottled at cask strength. Either way, it’s another excellent addition to the Midleton Very Rare range.

 

 

 

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