**Updated 05/11/2018 – Please note, since the publication of this article Ashford Castle has informed us that they have sold all 50 bottles at the €950 price. Due to demand they have now launched Phase 2 of their sales, 20 bottles at €1500 each**
A few months ago I spotted a very interesting photo on the Twitter page of Noli Alngohuro. It was of a bottle of Midleton Very Rare with an unusual case and label. That bottle turned out to be the Ashford Castle MVR release and Noli turned out to be the Bar and Lounge Manager of Ashford Castle!
Hidden away in the small village of Cong, County Galway it sits as one of Ireland’s premier luxury hotels. Of course it’s not the only thing the village is famous for, The Quiet Man was filmed there in 1952! Although I have never visited, the same family friends whom I mentioned in the Adare Manor review also stay in Ashford and do so for a week over Christmas…..every Christmas….for over 20 years! They speak ridiculously highly of it and are now all but part of the furniture. They even get their own real christmas tree in the room every year and have a tree planted on the grounds as a memorial. This is Ashford. The definitive location for luxury, service and attention to detail.
So when I saw the original photograph it was no surprise that it was destined for Ashford. This particular en devour started out When Ashford received an empty Pinot Noir barrel from their owners vineyard back in 2014. The original idea to create a wine finished whiskey, similar to Greenspot Chateau Leoville Barton, but this was not destined to happen. When Ashford went looking, they found cask 70345 in Warehouse MA2, Bay 008 and after tasting this Single Pot Still whiskey, they decided that it was too special to be experimenting and playing around with it. This cask was laid down on the 25th of August 1998 in Virgin American Oak and left to sleep until it was bottled this year, aged 20 years. While originally planned as a 40% whiskey, the sample that was cut down just lost it’s edge. Not being ones to skimp on anything, Ashford decided to bottle it at it’s cask strength, a whopping 59.4% ABV and the cask yielded only 168 bottles.
Speaking with them today I was told that the journey started four years ago with a simple question, “how can we provide a lasting experience to our guests that is unique to Ashford Castle? We would like to meet that by offering the majority of the yield to be consumed in our bars in Ashford Castle and its properties. While it is a very collectable whiskey, We truly believe that there is nothing like this Single Cask to be found again……so hopefully only a few will fall onto a collectors shelf.” It’s obvious from that statement that this Single Cask is meant to be consumed and while there are 168 bottles only a very limited 50 are being made available for purchase at a price of €950 per bottle…..50 that I’m told are already almost sold! So if you intend to collect this Midleton Single Cask, or indeed want to buy a bottle to crack open……do so ASAP!
The following tasting notes have been provided by the hotel and are not our thoughts;
Nose – Rich oak intensity combines with the Pot Still distillate elevating the overall spicy character of the whiskey. Complimented with notes of cedar wood, sweet toffee, vanilla and brown sugar.
Taste – Pot still and Oak spices at the forefront, including a subtle cinnamon note, that slowly fades away to reveal sweet honey, vanilla and soft fruit undertones.
Finish – The freshly-charred oak remains consistent throughout, with robust pot still spices giving balance while a toffee sweetness hold firm until the very end.
Official Press Release – Dublin, October 2018
Ashford Castle, Ireland’s top hotel destination, continues its legacy of excellence in a unique collaboration with the renowned Midleton Very Rare Whiskey and their Master Distiller, Mr. Brian Nation. Understanding that whiskey tasting is an integral part of the Irish experience for many of the discerning guests who visit Ashford Castle, and as a whiskey connoisseur himself, owner Mr. Stanley Tollman decided to embark on a project of particular personal interest and create an exclusive cask of whiskey for guests of Ashford Castle to enjoy. The fruit of a five year development process between the two iconic Irish brands, Ashford Castle’s very own whiskey is now available at €950 a bottle.
The Ashford Castle Whiskey is a single pot still that has been aged in a single, first use Virgin American Oak cask. Being a first use cask (meaning it had not held bourbon prior to arriving at Midleton), the oak had a significant contribution to the flavour and colour of the Single Pot Still. The resulting whiskey retains significant woody notes that add to its spicy character; refined and elegant with a lingering finish, echoing the lasting impression of an experience at Ashford Castle.
For fuller enjoyment of the exclusive Ashford Castle Whiskey, a bespoke crystal whiskey decanter and tumbler set has been created by another Irish legend, Irish Waterford Crystal. Bearing the Ashford Castle logo, the decanter is large enough to hold a full bottle of Ashford Castle Single Cask Single Pot Still Whiskey and the set is complete with two beautifully cut handmade tumblers. The tumblers are designed with a wide rim to capture the complex aromas whilst sipping, and hand cut patterns in the lead crystal reflect the whiskey’s rich caramel colour.
In addition to being enjoyed during a stay at Ashford Castle, the Ashford Castle Single Cask Single Pot Still Rare Whiskey and Ashford Castle Waterford Crystal Carafe and Tumbler set can also be purchased to imbibe at home from Mrs Tea’s Boutique at Ashford Castle or online at shop.ashfordcastle.com.
Niall Rochford, Ashford Castle’s General Manager, said:
“The Ashford Castle Whiskey is a truly bespoke Irish experience that captures the unique essence of Ashford Castle. We want to provide our guests with memorable experiences and are delighted to be partnering with Midleton Very Rare Whiskey and Waterford Crystal who closely reflect the high standards and ethos toward guest experiences that we espouse.”
For more information about Ashford Castle and its 800 years of History & Hospitality please visit http://www.ashfordcastle.com. A video about the partnership between Ashford Castle, Midleton Very Rare Whiskey and Waterford Crystal can be viewed here.