Midleton Very Rare 2006 Irish Whiskey Review
Jameson Irish Whiskey is well known by almost all. It is a ubiquitous drink that can be found in almost any local pub. It is well known for being very drinkable, very mixable and not very “great”. When a friend speaks of drinking Jameson, the direction of the talk tends to go to how much they drank of it not how much they enjoyed each sip.
So it is a lesser known fact that the Jameson distillery distributes rarer, older, more expensive and (one might venture to guess) better Irish whiskies than the base Jameson brand.
One of those lines is the Midleton Very Rare line of whiskies. Midleton Very Rare is a premium blended Irish whiskey, produced by Irish Distillers at their distillery, in the East Cork town of Midleton, from which it gets its name. It was launched in 1984 to celebrate the whiskeys produced in Midleton. A new vintage is released every year. Each bottle is individually numbered and signed by the Master distiller. As the name suggests, the whiskey is produced in limited quantities. Only 50 casks are released each year, it is therefore both expensive and collectible. The whiskeys used in the blend are handpicked by the Master distiller, all are triple distilled and have aged between 12 and 25 years (which is the beginning of the upper reaches of age for a whiskey) in individually selected Bourbon or Sherry casks. As a new vintage is created each year, each differs slightly and has its own character.
Situated in Co. Cork Midleton distillery is responsible for the majority of all Irish Whiskey produced in Ireland today. It is the Irish Distillers Group main distillery.
The distillery started life as a woolen manufacturing business in 1796. By the 1820s the buildings were lying empty until three brothers James, Daniel and Jeremiah Murphy decided that the perfect purpose for these fine buildings should be the manufacture of whiskey. Initially run as a family concern calling themselves James Murphy & Co they ultimately merged with several other distillers in the area to be come known as the Cork Distillers Company.
The Midleton Distillery had many advantages being situated in the countryside not least of which was the low operating overheads as opposed to those experienced by the City Distillers. A greater advantage was perhaps that Midleton boasted not only Irelands but the world’s largest still with a capacity of 31,618 gallons.
Many reviewers have given this whiskey some of their highest reviews (and it should command very positive reviews based off of its price point) but I will detail here why it is a good but basically forgettable significantly overpriced dram.
My father’s friend owns a liqour distributorship in the city and therefore we were able to get it seriously below it’s retail price (actually around one third of the retail price.. it is good to know people in the industry!) and I am very happy about that because it didn’t turn out to be one worth half of what we paid. One can get 2012 and 2011 Midleton’s for between $120 – $150, but as they get older they get that much more rare (as their supply will not be increased) and so they get that much more pricey.
For the money though you do get a bit overdone certificate of authenticity!
I will say it is a fine looking whiskey with what looks like very little caramel coloring (if any.. I couldn’t find anywhere that detailed this, but to be honest if they don’t detail that it has a natural color than it generally doesn’t).
Nose: Raisins. Calm without fire. Very nice light colored rye bread.. but overall mild and not too complex. Perhaps some light cedar and dark honey.
Taste: The mouthfeel as it hits the palate (before any flavor is expressed) is quite nice and smooth, not at all cloying… and that is essentially all that hits the palate in the front… very little flavor but what is there is at least smooth, relaxed and mild. As it hits the mid palate, we get caramel and white bread, distant remnants of fig and perhaps a bit of smoked almond but not much. The finish though is drastically different (and presents a drink with a split personality) in that it is mostly fire (it finally comes through) and cough syrup. Not the most satisfying finish.
Balance: Yes it is balanced, but I say that mostly because it plays only a few notes and they do stay there pretty much throughout.
I will say this… I tried with this whiskey. I tried and tried. Attempting to get more out of the nose at least 6 times.Taking a sip (opening up my lips a bit to allow the air to flow over it) 5 times. I really wanted to give this whiskey every chance that I could to express itself (and to express to me why it should be worth over $300) but nothing else ever came through.
I didn’t really find anything to dislike about it… and also nothing to really love about it.
Blends have a strike against them from the start (in their inherent lack of complexity from being a blend) but one that asks that we fork over as much as this one does should be able to rise above being a blend… and make one forget that it is a blend. This whiskey didn’t do that.
Score: 6 Black Cats (out of 10)
We are all warriors and we need to celebrate,