€180 Irish whiskey goes on sale this month

Another Round: John Wilson on a whiskey that caused a stir when it arrived – at £40 a bottle

Midleton Very Rare: each component of the 2019 release has been aged for between 13 and 35 years

Midleton Very Rare: each component of the 2019 release has been aged for between 13 and 35 years

 

Midleton Very Rare, the first luxury Irish whiskey, created quite a stir when it was released, in December 1985, for the then unheard of sum of £40 a bottle – the equivalent of just over €100 today.

Created by the master distiller Barry Crockett from just 32 casks of whiskey, the first batch was enough for 7,600 bottles of 1984 Midleton Very Rare. If you fancy trying a drop, a bottle costs €2,500 at the Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin. And that’s not even the most expensive version: the Pearl edition, 117 bottles of which were released to mark the whiskey’s 30th anniversary, is on sale for €11,000 a bottle.

Midleton Very Rare, a new vintage of which Irish Distillers releases each year, is a mixture of pot-still and grain whiskeys; although it does not carry an age statement, it has generally been matured for between 12 and 20 years.

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These days the man responsible for Midleton Very Rare is Crockett’s successor, Brian Nation. (The distillery’s master blender, Billy Leighton, also plays a role.) Nation has just unveiled the 2019 release, the 36th, which goes on sale this month for €180 a bottle.

Midleton Very Rare has evolved over the years, Nation says. “We originally only had nine-year-old whiskies. The changes have been subtle; I see it as a gradual finessing. Now I am blessed to have a range of 40-year-old whiskies to select from. Each component of the 2019 has been aged in first-fill American bourbon casks for a period of 13 to 35 years.”

The 2019 release has floral aromas with ripe fruits – pears in particular – and vanilla; the vanilla and fruit carry on into the palate, alongside toasted wood and spice on the powerful, long finish.

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