Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review - Midleton Very Rare 2017 Edition

Irish Distillers have released the 2017 Edition of their super premium Midleton Very Rare bottling, which has appeared annually as a limited edition since it was first released in 1984. As with previous editions, this year sees a blend of grain and single pot still whiskeys. The age range for the 2017 Edition is 12 to 32 years and has been created by Brian Nation, the Master Distiller at Midleton. The oldest grain whiskey is 32 years of age and the oldest pot still whiskey is 26 years of age. All have been matured in ex-bourbon barrels that have then been specially selected by Nation, one of only two men to ever create the Very Rare.

"It has been a privilege for me to continue the legacy of Midleton Very Rare that Barry Crockett started in 1984. The Very Rare is rightfully regarded as the pinnacle of Irish whiskey with each vintage cherished by collectors and whiskey enthusiasts all over the world." 
Brian Nation - Master Distiller at Midleton. 

The Midleton Rare 2017 Edition is the first in the series to feature the new packaging design, which sees the whiskey now presented in a bespoke bottle and wooden casket. It is bottled at 40% ABV and is non chill-filtered. It is initially available in selected markets including Canada, Ireland and the USA, plus Irish travel retail. The cost is €180 (£165) per bottle.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a vibrant golden yellow and the nose has a sweet aroma with plenty of citrus and spice.  First comes vanilla, honey and a hint of golden syrup, which later becomes more toffee-like. These are complimented by candied orange peel and some green fruit, especially pear and apple. Underneath are robust and toasted wood spices.

On the palate this whiskey feels viscous and luxurious. Initially it is soft, sweet and fruity, before evolving to reveal robust cereal and wood spice characteristics. The evolution seems effortless and adds quality, depth and enjoyment. First comes vanilla, honey and toffee, along with an intriguing note of custard powder. The pear, apple and citrus from the nose are also present, although the citrus is more reminiscent of mandarin or tangerine now. Then comes those robust cereals, which are driven by a note of bittersweet barley. There is also plenty of late wood spice - think of cinnamon and all-spice in particular - along with hints of peach, ginger and green chilli.

The finish is long and warming. The sweet and fruity characteristics slowly fade to leave the bittersweet cereals and drying, earthy spices to linger. A pleasant hint of gingerbread appears very late, as does some further candied citrus peel.

What's the verdict?
The Midleton Very Rare 2017 Edition is an exquisite whiskey and one of the best new Irish ones that we have tasted this year. The combination of sweetness, spiciness and both green and citrus fruits is very good, and all are backed up by a characterful cereal quality. This has been achieved by using some of the oldest ever used in the series within the blend.

The packaging upgrade is also very welcome and was probably needed. This has added to the prestige nature of the release with the bottle and casket now seemingly fit for such a super premium product.


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