Whisky Focus - Midleton Very Rare 2018 Review

Midleton Very Rare 2018

3rd October 2018
Midleton Very Rare 2018, the 35th edition of the Irish blended whiskey.

Midleton Very Rare 2018

Midleton Very Rare 2018 is believe it or not the 35th edition of the special annual Vintage release from the Midleton distillery. An Irish blended whiskey made up of a hand picked selection of some of the best Irish Single Pot Still whiskeys produced at the Midleton distillery blended with Irish Single Grain whiskeys.

Similar to the previous annual releases, the whiskeys that have gone into the Midleton Very Rare 2018 blend have been matured exclusively in lightly-charred ex-Bourbon American oak barrels and for the 2018 vintage these have been aged for between 12 and 28 years. They do not declare what proportion of the whiskey in the blend comes from older maturing stock but I can say that I have never come across a Midleton Very Rare vintage that I wouldn't have placed its aged around at least 18 - 21 years old, so they do always appear to be generous with the older stuff that goes into the blend.

Like any annual release of this type, by its very nature it has varied in quality over the years, varying from let me say quite disappointing due to my expectations of this whiskey to absolutely outstanding, for example in recent years Vintage 2009 was outstanding, 2014 was disappointing and 2016 was good.

Since 2014 the selection and blending of the whiskeys which go into the Midletion Very Rare vintage release has fell to Midleton Distillery Master Distiller Brian Nation who took over the reigns at Midleton from retiring Master Distiller Barry Crockett who was the the man who originally created the ex-bourbon cask matured Vintage Release.

The distillery tells me that the Midleton Very Rare 2018 edition offers a subtle floral note alongside a hint of fresh herbs and citrus from the Irish grain whiskey contribution, which is complemented by the spicier Irish single pot still whiskey characteristics of cinnamon, clove and black pepper. The vanilla sweetness contrasts with the charred oak to deliver a finishing touch of orchard fruit, green banana and a hint of barley sugar. It certainly sounds good on paper and here's hoping that it is.

Brian Nation commented: "It is a great honour to have my signature on the front of each bottle of Midleton Very Rare, and this acts as the ultimate guarantee of quality from the Midleton Distillery. We set aside very small amounts of particularly fine single pot still and single grain distillates each year so that the Midleton Very Rare legacy can continue. This practice has been going on for over 40 years and today we are the proud custodians of the exceptional distillates with a duty of care to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy the pinnacle of Irish whiskey as we do today."

Midleton Very Rare 2018 as always is bottled at 40% ABV, launching globally from this month at the RRP of 180, you will soon find it available from specialist online whisky retailers such as The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Shop and Master of Malt

Midleton Very Rare 2018 Review

Bottled at 40% ABV.

Producer's Tasting Notes:

Nose: Vanilla sweetness with a light floral perfume. Some citrus zest combines with fresh herbs and sweet spices complimented by a touch of black pepper and charred oak.

Taste: Mouth-coating sweetness of vanilla, cinnamon and clove, enriched with a hint of green apple and unripe banana. Peppery pot still spices, along with charred American oak, add complexity.

Finish: Soft sweet spices fade leisurely leaving the final say to the charred oak and barley grains.

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