Monday, October 14, 2019

Review - Midleton Very Rare 2019 Edition

This whiskey is the latest in the long line of super premium releases by the Irish brand of Midleton. The Very Rare 2019 Edition is the 36th whiskey released in the annual range and features single pot still and single grain whiskeys that range in age from 13 to 34 years. For this year's release they have all have been matured exclusively in lightly charred American oak ex-bourbon casks and then married together by Brian Nation, the Master Distiller for Midleton, who picks them from a small pocket of rare stock that is maturing only for the Very Rare expression.

Midleton is currently produced in Co. Cork in southern Ireland at the Midleton distillery. This is owned by Irish Distillers, the Irish whiskey wing of Pernod Ricard, and produces a staggering 19 million litres of whiskey a year in the numerous styles needed for the Irish Distillers portfolio, which includes brands such as Jameson, Power's and Redbreast. Only a small percentage of what is produced each year is set aside and eventually used for the Very Rare releases.

"Each year we set aside very small amounts of the single pot still and single grain distillates so that the Midleton Very Rare legacy can continue. This vintage features an extraordinary blend of whiskeys from the rarest casks, with the oldest dating back to 1985." 
Brian Nation. 

The Midleton Very Rare 2019 Edition has been bottled at 40% ABV and is presented in a wooden casket. It will be available in selected world markets including Ireland, the USA and the UK. Each bottle will cost €180/ £160/ $198 US.

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep golden yellow and the nose is highly fragrant and aromatic. There are initial aromas of vanilla and golden syrup, which sit alongside over ripe pears and stewed apple. Underneath are further aromas of muscovado sugar and heather honey. Hints of dried tropical fruits (think of mango and pineapple), beeswax polish and dusty wood spices (imagine cinnamon and mace) are also evident.

On the palate this whiskey has a viscous and luxurious quality. The vanilla and dusty wood spices hit first in a heady combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, crumbly brown sugar and vanilla custard notes. Then the fruitiness comes through - over ripe pears and juicy mango mix with baked apples, lychee and dried pineapple. The layers keep revealing themselves with a delicious nutty (think of almond with some hazelnut praline in particular) and further wood spices adding depth - imagine all-spice, mace and a hint of fresh sawdust. There are also delicate hints of floral honeysuckle, cocoa, powdered ginger and a pinch of clove.

The finish is of decent length and becomes drier, woodier and spicier with time. The sweet syrup, honey and fruit notes fade to give some distinct warming ginger and cinnamon-like notes. Then the drying oak and a hint of earthiness comes through.

What's the verdict?
Sampling the Midleton Very Rare is always a treat and something to look forward to each year. The 2019 Edition is no different and the whiskey is again delicious and classy. It is maybe not as rich or carry the depth of aroma and flavour of previous expressions, but these nuances make the range what it is. It remains an elegant whiskey that sits towards the pinnacle of the Irish category. We urge you to try this if you get the opportunity.

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