Kensington Wine Market's 2023 Whisky Calendar UBER EDITION Day 6 - Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey
Posted on December 6, 2023
Today marks a first for the Uber Edition of the 2023 KWM Whisky Calendar. A few firsts actually. For one, this is our first Irish Whiskey in the lineup. And this is also the first bottle in the Calendar with no age statement. That’s right: while the five drams before this were stated to be at least 25 years old, chances are there is younger whisky in this bottle. Will that make a difference and impact how we perceive it? Only time will tell!
The Midleton Very Rare is one of the most highly regarded whiskies available that does not come with an age statement. Many consider it to be one of the best Irish Whiskies available, and it comes from a company known for making great Irish Whiskey. That company is Irish Distillers, which is owned by Pernod Ricard. Irish Distillers is responsible for many notable Irish Whiskey brands including Jamesons, Green/Yellow/Blue Spot, Powers, and one of my favourites: Redbreast.
Since its first release in 1984, the venerable Midleton Very Rare has been a blend of pot still and grain whisky that is produced at the new Midleton Distillery in East Cork. The releases of Very Rare are usually aged in ex-Bourbon casks, giving it a somewhat different twist than the more sherry-driven Redbreast Irish Whiskey range.
As an annual release, Midleton Very Rare can have a lot of batch variation. Some prefer certain vintages over others. I have not tasted enough of the range to weigh in on that personally, but I am looking forward to tasting this one. Here is what the company behind the Very Rare has to say about the 2023 Release:
“Since 1984, each Master Distiller of Midleton Very Rare uses their eye for detail, their passion for quality whiskey and their exemplary skill to create the pinnacle of Irish whiskey—our special vintage release.
The latest chapter of this renowned collection is adorned with the signature of our Master Distiller, Kevin O’Gorman. After months of exploration, O’Gorman crafted a balanced blend of rare and hand-selected single pot still and single grain Irish whiskeys from Midleton’s exclusive inventory to create this truly special release.
Matured in lightly charred ex-bourbon American oak barrels, the Midleton Very Rare 2023 Vintage Release delights with decadent flavours and a tantalising aroma. The aroma, taste and finish of this whiskey will enliven the palates of those new to this collection while taking the seasoned whiskey collector on a journey through an exciting exploration of taste.”
Let’s dive in!
Midleton Very Rare - 2023 Release - 40% ABV
Evan’s Tasting Note
Nose: Vanilla candles, paraffin wax, white grape juice, pear slices, pineapple, coconut water, tumeric/curry powder, green peppers, fresh grain, and recently cut oak staves.
Palate: Waxy and chalky with chamomile tea, cucumber slices, lemon meringue pie, more coconut, and peaches.
Finish: Soft, wood-driven, and vegetal.
Comment: Call me a cask-strength-loving Neanderthal, but I am honestly having a hard time cracking this one. It is intriguing, yet so soft that I find pulling out notes difficult.
I have no idea what is going on here, and I readily admit that my notes suck. I would love to give this another try, and I hopefully will revisit this whiskey in the future. For now, here are the tasting notes for this vintage from The Midleton Very Rare website, just for contrast.
Producer Tasting Note
Aroma: Opens with an intricate medley of fruits including nectarines, 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 a herbal quality akin to camomile tea. The pot still spices add depth and intrigue as they weave amongst the floral grain qualities found lingering throughout. The charred oak’s 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 to a crescendo before giving way, leaving the final say to the oak tannins and antique grain whiskey.
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