Whisky Focus - Midleton Very Rare 2020 Review

Midleton Very Rare 2020 Review

13th October 2020
Review of the Midleton Very Rare 2020, Master Distiller Brian Nations parting gift to fans of this premium Irish blended whiskey.

Midleton Very Rare 2020Irish Distillers today unveiled their Midleton Very Rare 2020 release which is incredibly the 37th annual release in this renowned series of mature pot still rich Irish blended whiskey's that was first launched back in 1984.

The casks which go into the blend to make up the annual Midleton Very Rare releases are traditionally hand picked by the Midleton Master Distiller and with Midleton Master Distiller Brian Nation having moved on after 23 years at Midleton earlier this year you may have wondered whose signature we were going to see adorning the new Midleton Very Rare 2020 bottle.

Well it appears by way of a parting gift Brian had already pre-selected the casks to go into the Midleton Very Rare 2020 release before his departure so it will be next year before the newly appointed Master Distiller Kevin O’Gorman imparts his stamp on the premium annual Irish whiskey release.

I am told that for the 2020 vintage Brian selected a blend of whiskey's which have been aged between 13 to 35 years in lightly charred ex-bourbon American oak barrels and that there is a higher pot still inclusion in this years release in comparison to previous vintages. Brian has also increased the use of refill barrels amongst his choice of casks. I was also told that the contributing grain whiskey in the blend comes from the older end of the 13 to 35 years age spectrum which is of no surprise as grain whiskey is known to peak at 20 year plus.

Kevin O’Gorman, newly appointed Master Distiller at Irish Distillers, and long-time collaborator of Brian Nation, commented on the new 2020 release, saying: "As a colleague and friend to Brian for many years, I could not be prouder to present his final Midleton Very Rare vintage and his legacy as Irish Distillers’ Master Distiller, to consumers across the globe.

"Selected each year with passion and precision, this expression offers an initial burst of tangy fruity sweetness on the palate, with pot still spices building over time to add a mild prickle of chili oil. Indeed, Brian’s love of a single pot still is reflected in this exceptional whiskey, while preserving the balance and beauty for which Midleton Very Rare is renowned."

Those of you who look out for the Midleton Very Rare vintage release each year should note that they will not have to wait too long to find out what newly appointed Master Distiller Kevin O’Gorman will offer them, as in a break from tradition the annual vintage is to be made available earlier in the year in question and the Midleton Very Rare 2021 will be available in spring next year, honouring a rare changing of the guard at the iconic Midleton Distillery.

Meanwhile the new Midleton Very Rare 2020 which has been bottled at 40% ABV is launching in Ireland now, and will hit shelves in the UK, USA, Global Travel Retail, Australia, Germany and Canada in the coming months from this month at the RRP of £160/€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 2020 Review

William Morrison's Tasting Notes:

Nose: A little sweet vanilla icing sugar infused with a touch of nutmeg, a touch of fresh pear, a little lemon sherbert and some distant orange. Some lovely gentle pot still spices are lurking in the background along with some oak tannin reminding us the years spent maturing.

Taste: A mildly barley sugared fruit mix of orange, lemon and pear leads then gives way to the some delicious mildly peppered pot still spices along with some sweet mature charred oak. Some late grapefruit appears and leaves just as quick.

Finish: The fruits hang in there for an age before bowing out to leave some lovely lingering oak and pot still spices clinging to the palate.

Comment: The pleasure about the Midleton Very Rare annual vintage releases is that no two years are 100% identical, this new 2020 release offers a delicious mix of freshness and maturity, it is obviously very closely related to the outstanding 2019 release and if you enjoyed last years release then you are sure to enjoy this years as it is another outstanding mature Irish pot still rich blend.

SMW Irish Blended Whiskey Score 92/100


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