Started in 1984, this is the 34th release from Midleton’s Very Rare series, which is oft-cited as being the top end of the Irish Whiskey market in terms of quality and popularity. Every year the best casks are selected from the distillery’s warehouse and married together to produce each new bottling.
Situated 30 minutes east of Cork City, Midleton is the renowned producer of much-loved whiskies like Green Spot, Red Breast, and Tullamore Dew, and of the leading Irish whiskey in global sales, Jameson. Owned by Irish Distillers (their parent company is Pernod Ricard), the distillery currently possesses the largest pot stills in the world (3 x 75,000 litre capacity) and 3 column stills which allow the site to produce over 64 million litres per annum.
The 2017 bottling of their Very Rare series contains the oldest whiskies used in the blend to date; a 32 Year Old grain whiskey and a 26 Year Old single pot still.
Bottled at 40%, the whiskey comes encased in a basic wooden box, although worth mentioning they have now created a newer style with the bottle and box shape re-imagined. 2017 was actually the last year that the above style was made.
Nose: There’s a summery nose with hay and grass, followed by buttered almonds, rhubard and custard sweets, fresh vanilla pods, honey. It’s sweet and candy-like – very inviting.
Palate: The much derided term of smooth applies here. Zero bite to this dram – the nose hinted a it, and the palate confirms it. There are tones of spice such as cinnamon but they all take a back seat to the notes of fresh baked pastry, stewed apples, vanilla, and rice pudding. Hints of dried apricots finish it off.
Finish: Wee bursts of pepper on the finish are accompanied by a buttery leftover mouthfeel. Not a long finish.
A confident, well-crafted whiskey that a friend was kind enough to open and let me try. It sold for £135 on release, so the price will have undoubtedly risen slightly since then which puts it out of my price range at the moment, however very grateful I got to try it. I had actually tried the 2018 release a couple of years ago and didn’t really think much of it, so it’s always good to reconsider my whiskey opinions and tastes.