Distiller: Midleton. ABV: 40%. No age statement. Price: $150.
A real stunner, this one. I first had the Midleton Very Rare during a long and memorable night of tastings at the home of J.T. Rickhouse, during which he brought out one heavy hitter after another: Yamazaki 18, Highland Park 30, Bruichladdich Octomore 1.0…and still the Midleton stood out from the crowd.
This is among the best Irish whiskies being bottled today, period. It’s the best from the distillery most known for Jameson–but it’s a world away from anything released under that brand name, except maybe the excellent Jameson 18.
The Midleton Very Rare is a blend of 12- to 25-year-old whiskies aged in ex-bourbon and sherry casks. It’s been an annual release since 1984, and just 50 casks’ worth hit the market each year.
The nose leads with strong notes of dried apple and young leather. Then grilled pears, and savory note that hints at mesquite. With time in the glass, a maple note familiar from many Irish whiskies emerges, but more complex and velvety here, dribbled over a toasty Belgian waffle. Some sweet white oak sap too.
The palate has canned pears in syrup. Almond candy sprinkled with ground ginger and nutmeg. Late on, there’s a cotton candy softness that manages somehow not to be too sweet. The finish is on the long and mild side, with honey and roasted pine nuts–yep, that’s baklava–and a little cedar.
At $150 or so, it’s not cheap–but it’s a dram you won’t soon forget.
Sláinte! – BO