Midleton Very Rare, Vintage Release 2023 /40%/ –
Midleton Very Rare is a super-premium Irish blended whiskey released annually in limited quantities (usually only 50 casks are bottled). It was introduced in 1984 and the early bottlings contained spirit distilled in the original Old Midleton Distillery, which ceased operations in 1975. The whisky doesn’t carry age destination but according to the company statement no component younger than 12 years is being used and some are considerably older, aged well-over 20 years. The label indicates the year of bottling, not the year of distillation. The 40th edition of Midleton Very Rare was created by Kevin O’Gorman and launched in early 2023; it is a blend of single pot still and single grain whiskeys aged exclusively in lightly charred, refill American oak barrels. (Producer’s note.)
Nose: opens with an intricate medley of fruits including nectarine, ripe melon, green apple and apricot. A solid foundation of pot still spices, showcasing notes of freshly peeled ginger and crushed peppercorns, work in tandem with the aged grain’s perfumed notes of dried flowers and delectable golden syrup. The oak continues to reveal itself, adding notes of vanilla combined with a honeycomb sweetness and freshly roasted coffee beans.
Taste: luscious at first with succulent fruits and a distinctive creaminess along with herbal quality akin to chamomile tea. The pot still spices add depth and intrigue as they weave amongst the floral grain qualities found lingering throughout. The charred oak influence continues to build over time creating additional complexity as the wood derived spices complement the ever-present fruits of candied orange and dried apricot.
Finish: the fruits and pot still spices build a crescendo before giving way, leaving the final say to oak tannins and antique grain whiskey.