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Midleton Very Rare

Average score from 5 reviews and 15 ratings 89

Midleton Very Rare

Product details

  • Brand: Midleton
  • Bottler: Unknown
  • ABV: 40.0%
  • Bottled: 2014

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Midleton Very Rare

So yesterday we looked at three Irish single malts - two were 10 years old, two (and maybe all three) were from Cooley. Today we'll look at two new bottlings from Midleton.

Well, this one isn't really new - it's simply the 2016 edition of Midleton Very Rare. I buy a bottle every year, and enjoy comparing to previous bottles. Although it is always a blend, aged for 12-25 years in bourbon barrels, and bottled at 40%, there are always slight differences between annual batches. Let's look at it side-by-side with the 2015 edition (which I scored a 90 a year ago).

The colour is a deep golden amber. On the nose we have beeswax, strawberries and cream, mild spices and baklava. Seems a little closed (though it is a freshly opened bottle). Still, I also get some creme caramel. A drop of water brings out some wonderful malt and wood smoke. The barley is a bit too dominated by the bourbon casks, but it's still a nice, sweet, buttery nose.

On the palate the spices are a bit more forward, balancing nicely between barley sugar, toffee and...beer nuts! Creamy mouthfeel. Lots of dark honey here as well. Water makes the spice (nutmeg?) even more predominant. Quite delicious.

The finish is oaky with roasted almonds and dark honey. This is delicious stuff (especially with a drop of water), but you will have to enjoy those dominant notes of honey and caramel. I would have preferred a bit more of a crisp pot still character (though not a pot still, it has pot still in it of course) but still, pretty yummy and easy to drink. Now, to compare with the 2015 edition: where 2016 is more caramel and honey, 2015 is crisper and maltier. Both are very good though - my scoring the 2016 slightly lower than the 2015 is really just a matter of personal preference than any kind of disappointment that it's "not as good".

Sounds pretty good for 40% - is it $215 good?

I'm not so sure about that - I guess, maybe? I drink these slowly - for at least a year. So that works out to 59 cents a day to have it in the house.


Smooth fast floral and red fruit arrival, develops a mild sweet white fruit middle followed by a fast and thin vegetable loaded finish.

Wow a lot going on in this bottle, thoroughly enjoyed it, however was a little thin and fast running on the palate. Good to be sure but pricey for what it is.


This Midelton is a blend and is rare for the fact that only 50 casks are bottled each year to create it. All the whiskey in the mix is triple distilled and aged between 12 and 25 years. The 2014 release was created by Master Distiller Brian Nation, who followed up the legendary Barry Crocket after his retirement. Nation’s signature is boldly depicted on the label.

The nose is dark, if you know what I mean. Some crème brûlée and baked apples, but also stewed pears and some cereals with candied sugar. It also sports a floral side. Potpourri. All of this, however, is overpowered a bit by a truck load of toffee and vanilla. Sandalwood. Tasted blind I could have confused this with a bourbon or even a rum.

It is creamy despite the light body. Again toffee and vanilla that drown out most of the fruit. Cashew nuts appear. Spicy on nutmeg and a pinch of pepper. The fruit really struggles to get past this. Do not ask me why, but I am suddenly reminded of ice cream.

The finish is fairly long and allows the fruit to re-emerge.

Truth be told, I expected more of this. If you know that a bottle will set you back more than 150 EUR… that is a bit too much to my taste. Somewhat overhyped, if you ask me.


Well, I had intended to write this on March 17 - but unfortunately I was home sick with a migraine all day and evening…and last night I took Maggie to the dentist and was pretty busy with her. And so, two days later, here's my final Irish review!

And this is quite a special one. Midleton Very Rare is the only regularly issued bottling that is actually branded with this distillery's name (though there are some single-cask one-offs occasionally). This edition comes out annually (usually late in the year). It is a pot-still heavy blend of whiskies between 12 and 25 years old, matured in virgin oak; production is of the traditionally Irish triple-distilled, non-peated variety. It is a very limited annual release (though I'm not sure how many bottles are released). The packaging, with the wooden box, signed certificate, etc etc reflects its positioning as a premium product. Note that each annual release can be slightly different. This review is of the most recent 2013 edition.

The colour is medium gold, with coppery highlights. On the nose, tropical fruits (papaya), raisin, nutmeg, oak and a core of honey. Very biscuity, but also…candy cane! The longer it is in the glass, the more cereal notes I get (along with becoming a little perfumy), but the honey never goes away. A little menthol around the edges. A few drops of water (not too much, remember this is 40% ABV) reveals more malt - as well as sourdough! Lovely, and full of surprises. You know you have a whiskey with a beautiful nose when you're girlfriend calls…and you let it ring…because you are busy…busy with the whiskey...

On the palate we have a lot of delicacy: light honey, gentle spices and the unmistakable pot still character of raspberries and dark chocolate. More oak - you know there are older whiskies in here. Sweet but also sharp around the edges. Water is kinder to the nose than the palate, but still - very fine.

The finish brings out more spices (a little cayenne now) with lots of malt, as well as some bourbon notes. This is a fantastic whiskey, of classic Irish character, with great subtlety and complexity. I poured this for my office last week and everyone was blown away. Someone asked me how much the bottle costs, and I stupidly told them; then they all felt guilty (it ain't cheap). I told them not to be so damn silly - after all, whiskey tastes better when you share it.

Right now I have five different whiskies from Midleton in front of me, to compare and contrast: Midleton Very Rare 2013, Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old, Redbreast 12 Year Old, Jameson and Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve 2009. Despite the distillery looking like an enormous petrochemical plant, the delicate pot-still character is present in all the blends (as well as obviously the Redbreast), with varying degrees of complexity and richness. Very educational. Most of my whisky friends denounce Irish whiskey but I steadfastly disagree. Luckily, my girlfriend is a huge fan and so I have her to share it with!


Smooth and easy to drink doesn't begin to describe this gem. Has a couple drams at a recent whisky tasting and this one knocked my socks off. So smooth, so clean, almost feminine, but oh so delicious.

I say this is dangerous because I think this might be the most approachable, delicious, yet refined dram of whiskey I've ever had. A great way to start (a ruin) a new whiskey drinker.

If you're a fan of less powerful whisky, then you need to save up and give this bottle a try.

Folks...am totally new to this site & am looking for some advice on behalf of my mum. She has a 1984 Bottle of Midleton Very Rare - in the original Box with the certificate etc.. - Long story short - it belonged to my father who passed away 2 years ago this July & she wants to move on and is looking to sell it. Not being a whiskey drinker I've no idea what the best method/place/option would be. Any advice would be really appreciated! Thanks. Ian.

Hi Bolton, First and foremost, I would love to take that off your hands if you still have it and are open to selling it (seriously). Otherwise, I would definitely hold on to it for two reasons; 1) it's a terrific quality whiskey and you're in possession of it's earliest edition and 2) it was obviously a special bottle of your father's being that he held on to it so it's something to definitely keep on the shelf for reasons beyond the contents.

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