Whisky Focus - Midleton Very Rare 2021

Midleton Very Rare 2021


19th February 2021
Beginning a new tradition under the guardianship of Master Distiller Kevin O’Gorman, the Midleton Very Rare 2021 vintage is the first expression in the series to be launched at the start of the year.

Hot on the heals of the outstanding Midleton Very Rare 2020 expression, and breaking from what had become tradition over the years, the folks at Midleton has released the next instalment of their Midleton Very Rare premium Irish blended whiskey series early in 2021. Normally released each year around October as we head into winter, the distillery has decided to release the 39th edition in the series, Midleton Very Rare 2021 as we approach Spring.

The Midleton Very Rare 2021 is also the first in the series to be created by Irish Distillers’ new Master Distiller, Kevin O’Gorman. In keeping with tradition, Irish Distillers tells me that Kevin has created a balanced blend of rare and hand-selected single pot still and single grain Irish whiskeys from Midleton’s extensive inventory. The Midleton Very Rare 2021 includes whiskey aged between 15 and 36 years which have been matured in lightly charred ex-bourbon American oak barrels.

Making his Midleton Very Rare debut selection as Master Distiller, Kevin O’Gorman took several months to explore the finest casks in the Midleton inventory as he sought to put his own mark on this eagerly awaited annual limited-edition release. Drawing on his experience in both distillation and maturation, O’Gorman elevated the grain whiskey contribution for the 2021 vintage to create a delicate and elegant whiskey. In order to maintain a luxurious, balanced aroma and taste profile, O’Gorman selected a mix of first fill and second fill casks to enhance the wood contribution while allowing the pot still component to express itself.

The result I am told is a whiskey of great finesse, with a floral, perfumed character. The higher selection of grain whiskeys extends the spectrum of flavours and aromas to include baked orchard fruits, lime zest and kiwi, perfectly rounded off with mild pot still spices and soft waves of vanilla from the exceptional bourbon casks.

Celebrating the launch of Midleton Very Rare 2021, O’Gorman comments: "It is a great honour to become the custodian of this extraordinary Irish whiskey family and to have my signature adorn our 2021 vintage.

"The journey to launching this vintage began almost 40 years ago. Continuing the work of my predecessors was both a daunting and extremely enjoyable process that allowed me to explore some of our rarest casks and create an exceptional blend that sits seamlessly within the family.

"I am particularly proud to have been able to include distillate that was laid down in 1984, the year the collection was first conceived by Master Distiller Emeritus Barry Crockett, from who I have learned so much.

"For me, this vintage adds a new dimension and elegance to the style and quality for which the range is renowned. I couldn’t ask for a better way to begin my chapter as Irish Distillers’ Master Distiller."

Beginning a new tradition under the guardianship of Master Distiller Kevin O’Gorman, the Midleton Very Rare 2021 vintage will be the first to be launched at the start of the year, in response to consumer demand. As the new Midleton Very Rare calendar establishes this year, Ireland, online platforms and select markets will retain an allocation for a second sales period in late autumn to ensure availability before the festive period, in keeping with customer expectations.

The new Midleton Very Rare 2021 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 2021 Review


Bottled at 40% ABV, I would have liked it if they had taken this chance to bump up the ABV with Kevin's debut Very Rare expression, I haven't had the chance to taste this yet so I cant comment on its quality in comparison to previous releases. I will certainly let you know what I think of it if I get the chance to taste it, meanwhile here is the official tasting note.

Producer's Tasting Notes:

Nose: Opens with a delicate floral perfume closely followed by roasted coffee beans, salted caramel and honeycomb coming to the fore. Hints of nectarines that linger in the background evolve over time along with freshly grated ginger and nutmeg spice. The American oak provides structure throughout, ranging in depth from fresh woodland notes to aged charred oak.

Taste: Baked orchard fruits with a touch of lime zest and kiwi. Mild pot still spices continue to build along with soft waves of vanilla, sweet coffee liqueur and cocoa powder. The texture initially round and full, gains additional wood spices with a delicate touch of clove oil and nutmeg adding a mild heat, giving balance to the sweetness.

Finish: Lingering finish with the pot still spices and soft fruits eventually fading, allowing the oak to have the final say, highlighting the many years of maturation.
 

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