The brain child of Barry Crockett, Midleton’s Master Distiller Emeritus, Midleton Very Rare launched in 1984 and soon became a status symbol. Considered by most to be the pinnacle of Irish whiskey, it is released every year as a 40% ABV. blend and signed since 2013 by Brian Nation, Barry Crockett’s successor as Master Distiller of Midleton Distillery. The full collection is priced between €30,000 and €50,000 depending on where you try to buy and has an avid following from enthusiasts, collectors and speculators alike. As each month passes in the year, talk soon turns to “when will MVR be released?”. And each year, in October or November, a new blend is launched. Dare I say it is one of the most available whiskeys on the market, not by numbers, but by location. It is the “must have” bottle each year with every large supermarket, off licence and specialist whiskey shop in Ireland having it proudly displayed. With a face lift in 2017, the RRP is now €180……unless you buy in Tesco who seem to have missed the memo of the price increase last year!
I was lucky enough to get a sample so here are my notes and thoughts on it;
Nose – Sweet nose that also has a slight pepper spice from the pot still content. Herbal with vanilla and surprisingly, peachy and tropical fruit notes.
Palate – For me green apples lead the way from the start. Pot Still spice takes over with cinnamon and a touch of licorice in there too.
Finish – Medium to long that is somewhat sweet. Hint of tropical fruits towards the very end.
Overall – A great drop of whiskey but it leaves me wondering, is this a traditional Midleton Very Rare? Spicier than most MVRs and darker in colour than the 2017 release, it leads me to believe that there is a higher Single Pot Still (SPS) content in this blend. So, in the interests of science and all that, I compared it side by side with the 2017 MVR! 2017 is a far more balanced, traditional MVR in my opinion but, that is not to say that the 2018 isn’t good. It’s a belter of a whiskey and I am a big fan of SPS but when I reach for an MVR, I expect a balanced complex blend and not a heavily SPS influenced whiskey. While 2018 is obviously a blend, and while it is expected that the blend will change from year to year, this just tips the spicy scale for what I expect from an MVR. It’s a great whiskey, but in a blind taste test I doubt I’d have identified it as an MVR. Would I buy a bottle?? I already have…….