Midleton Very Rare 2017

Midleton Very Rare 2017

So, after the deep, dark Glendronach earlier in the week, the next sample waiting to be tasted is something quite the opposite. Midleton Very Rare is heralded as the pinnacle of luxury Irish Whiskey, and the latest release has been matured entirely in ex-bourbon casks. As the brain child of Midleton distiller emeritus Barry Crockett, Midleton Very Rare has been released every year since 1984, with the aim of creating ‘the best whiskey possible’. Now in the more-than-capable hands of Master Distiller Brian Nation, the 2017, and 34th, release contains single pot still (the Irish equivalent to single malt Scotch whisky) and grain whiskeys ranging from 12 to 32 years old, with the oldest pot still whiskey being 26 years old and the oldest grain whiskey being 32 year old.

I’m a big fan of most things coming out of the Midleton distillery, which is located just outside Cork in Ireland. As well as producing the iconic Jameson Blended Irish Whiskey, the other ranges – Yellow Spot, Green Spot and Red Breast – are all not only tasty liquids, but very competitively priced. For example, the recent Green Spot Chateau Montelena really delighted me. Will Midleton Very Rare 2017 do the same…?

Midleton Very Rare 2017
Blended Irish Whiskey
40% ABV
£135 here

Nose: Big hit of tropical fruit sweetness from the off; mango, papaya, lychee, icing sugar on stewed peaches, and yoghurt coated banana. Then there’s old fashioned pear drop sweets in waxed paper, toasted coconut and almonds, faded potpourri, and vanilla ice cream. Underneath there’s a little clove and nutmeg along with toasted vanilla pods and gentle, sweet oak.

Palate: Campino sweets, peaches and cream, mango, overripe pineapple, poached rhubarb, blood orange and faint lime cordial. All the fruits! Then there’s vanilla fudge, custard creams, white pepper, honey on porridge and a touch of cinnamon all underpinned by firm, slightly drying, oak.

Finish: Ginger spice, nutmeg, and cask stave are balanced by some white chocolate and some floral notes; possibly jasmine and violet.

Overall: This is everything I love about Irish whiskey. It’s all there. A proverbial shed-load of tropical fruit, interspersed with gentle spices, and layered on top of a gentle, but firm, oak influence. I went back to this again and again, both on the nose and on the palate, and the whiskey kept evolving. There’s maybe a certain depth which is lacking, possibly due to the sole use of ex-bourbon casks, and there isn’t event a suggestion of smoke (which always pricks my ears up) but nevertheless, this is a wonderfully crafted blend. Oh, and the sexy new packaging ain’t bad either – now in its mid thirties, Midleton Very Rare was due a wee nip and tuck here and there, and the bottle and box now reflects the quality of the liquid inside. Gorgeous whiskey, and a bit of a steal at £135 if I’m honest.



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