Midleton: Very Rare 2008 Edition (Irish Blended Whiskey: No Age Statement: 40% ABV)

Visual: Bright banana gold. Very rich and vibrant.

Viscosity: Very fast medium sized streaks.

Nose: Vanilla and toffee. Quite smooth. Touch of barley and understated oak. Slightly peppery. Honey.

Body: Pepper. Malt loaf. Vanilla and custard. Very smooth. A lime touch. The tongue tingles but never burns. Light malt chocolate. Water smoothes even more and makes fruitier. It also removes a lot of the pepper style.

Finish: Peppercorn. Light oak and light malt drinks. Sweet syrup. Oak rises slowly.  The flavours merge together with water to make a more simple but more rounded flavour.

Conclusion: This one has a reputation and when I saw the chance to try it by the measure in a local pub I was surprised. I was initially sceptical the sign was true, but here it is, in my hand.

At first the whiskey seemed quite closed. Sweet and smooth but it wasn’t distinct. The day’s heat however soon got the aromas flowing and produced an understated oak and pepper amongst the sweetness. This proved be the distinctive back of the whiskeys character.

Like Tyrconnell, I have a suspicion that some of the pepper like flavour is tied to the alcohol prickle, but it seems too distinct to solely be explained by that.  This also, while very smooth, has a sense of vibrancy to the character that belies its smoothness. However because of that it really doesn’t need water and does not benefit from its addition.

It is a careful mix of light sweet flavours and just enough bite. The finish, while nice, is not overly long, which is a pity. It does pick up over time though as it has time to set up layers on your tongue. It is very relaxing, smooth but with character. Even so it will not win on depth of character, but does have enough to keep you interested. The real job is balancing the character it does have without becoming heavy.

Very pleasant and if it were cheaper I would say to treat it as a bottle to get you and some friends through the night. The flavours would not get old over many measures I would imagine and in fact I think would possibly improve. It’s a tad too costly to do that lightly, but I think those of you with a full bottle will be able to take full advantage of this characteristic.

In fact this is unlike nearly every expensive whisky that I have tried in that it seems specifically designed to be better by the shared bottle rather than in a teased out measure.

Nice then if you can afford it.

Background: Having heard of Midleton’s fine reputation I was surprised one day walking through Bristol when a pub listed on its sign that they had this whiskey in their selection. So I poked my head in and, lo and behold, there was a bottle behind the counter.  Since I have been on a bit of an Irish Whiskey kick recently I popped back in with my mate an a steaming hot day and ordered a measure to review.  The bartender was very friendly and helpful in taking the photos, and gave advice on how to enjoy the whiskey. All good. Despite having no ages statement Master of Malt tells me that it is normally between 12 and 25 years of age for the various components.