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".