First taste: the Irish whiskey that costs €35,000 a bottle

Just how good is the most expensive Irish whiskey ever sold?

€2,000 per shot: Midleton Very Rare Silent Distillery Collection Chapter One. Photograph: Midleton

€2,000 per shot: Midleton Very Rare Silent Distillery Collection Chapter One. Photograph: Midleton

 

Midleton Very Rare released the most expensive Irish whiskey on Monday. Costing €35,000 a bottle, Silent Distillery Collection Chapter One is the first in a collection of very old Irish whiskeys from Midleton, Co Cork. Besides the eye-watering price, the big question is: what does a €35,000 bottle of whiskey taste like?

I was given the opportunity to try a small sample at a special event in London. My carefully measured drop was probably worth about €2,000 per shot; I made sure I was going to savour and taste it very carefully.

At this price, you are of course buying more than mere taste: rarity for a start, as fewer than 50 bottles of the whiskey will be released worldwide. You are also buying for its age; a single batch of this whiskey was distilled in 1974, and has been in oak casks ever since, becoming ever more concentrated as it evaporates, slowly taking on extra complexity and flavour from the wood.

The Silent Distillery Chapter One is certainly an impressive whiskey. It has a powerful complex nose full of rich toasty oak, old furniture and sweet red cherries and cassis, all underpinned by a subtle note of peat. It draws you back to the glass time after time.

Irish Times
Food&Drink Club

Exclusive events, competitions, reviews & recipes Join now

The deeply flavoured palate has elegance, finesse and real character; it is smooth, harmonious and multilayered, with honey, figs, dried fruit, and grilled nuts, along with that same waft of peat.

After a few minutes, it develops a magnificent soft woody enveloping warmth, lingering on the palate for an age. There is no doubt that this is a unique and wonderful elixir.

Can any drink be worth €35,000? I suspect a whiskey made in such small quantities will be bought by some as an investment rather than something to pour when friends drop in – unless you happen to be very wealthy indeed.

The current master distiller at Midleton Very Rare, Brian Nation, acknowledges that “three generations made this whiskey”; he inherited the mantle from Barry Crockett, who “taught me everything I know”.

He describes the whiskey as having a very rich nose with deep, dark spices on a satisfying antique oak base. An earthy note of freshly cut peat, along with chamois leather, that is lifted by a twist of grapefruit. The very old sherry wine seasoned hogshead cask contributes a touch of ripe honeydew melon and red berries, as well as the sweet spices of toasted oak.

On the palate, he finds it instantly rich, with the initial peppery spices slowly softening as the influence of the malted barley shows through. Liquorice root, barley sugar and honey bring some sweetness, just given a little edge by a touch of sherbet. All these flavour notes build on a solid foundation of toasted oak, with a long finish of rich spices and malted barley.

The whiskey is available from specialist retailers in Ireland, the UK, France and the US and two bottles will be sold via a ballot system at The 1825 Room, an online members’ programme.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.