By Richard Thomas
When the legendary Grasp Distiller Barry Crockett hatched the concept for Midleton Very Uncommon in 1984, I doubt he knew it might be the beginning of a really seminal model, one of many earliest examples the fashionable class of annual restricted version whiskeys. New Midleton Distillery had solely been in operation for 9 years when Crockett launched into its creation, and he had solely succeeded his father as Grasp Distiller some 4 years earlier than.
All of it looks like future now, however the Irish Whiskey was nonetheless firmly in its nadir on the time; John Teeling wouldn’t open the Cooley Distillery till 1987, so the Irish Whiskey trade was nonetheless simply New Midleton and Bushmills. Nothing else was left. Indicative of that is that Crockett drew on a mere 32 casks to make Midleton Very Uncommon, with an age vary of 9 to 13 years. Examine that with this yr’s launch, the thirty ninth installment of Midleton Very Uncommon, drawing on many extra casks with a variety of 12 to 33 years.
The collection ran the rest of Crockett’s profession (to 2013), the entire of Brian Nation’s tenure as Grasp Distiller (2013-2020), and now carries into the stewardship of former Grasp of Maturation and present Grasp Distiller Kevin O’Gorman (2020-present). The look and the fashion has modified fairly a bit over time, and nothing exemplifies that higher maybe than that inaugural 1985 version: insofar as I’m conscious, most who’ve tried it suppose it somewhat atypical. Midleton Very Uncommon evokes fairly completely different responses these days.
Grappling with this evaluate of one of the best of the Midleton Very Uncommon collection presents a selected drawback, as a result of the one particular person I can think about that will have tried all 39 vintages of the model could be Crockett himself. Possibly him. It’s such a venerable restricted version collection that the majority of its releases go unremarked on. Even so, I used to be capable of piece collectively a image of the model for the twenty first Century, and I took the perspective that discovering good commentary on a twentieth Century installment as excessive reward certainly.
That mentioned, listed below are the 5 greatest vintages of Midleton Very Uncommon, in descending chronological order.
Midleton Very Uncommon 2019: This was a type of expressions the place opinions diverged sharply. Our personal reviewer gave it a B+, and that was a mark that many within the whiskey-writing group concurred with. Nevertheless, Whisky Advocate gave it 94 factors, a tie with one of the best installments within the current years of the collection, and simply as many observers agreed with that evaluation. In reviewing their remarks, this bottling wasn’t as wealthy as the everyday Midleton Very Uncommon, however introduced additional subtlety to the present. So, this one is a case the place completely different tastes got here away with completely different conclusions; should you like complicated, lighter-bodied Irish whiskey, this in all probability a bottle value snagging.
Midleton Very Uncommon 2014: This was the primary Brian Nation launch within the collection, drawing on pot nonetheless and grain whiskeys as much as 22 years previous. Relative to the opposite Brian Nation-fashioned whiskey on the listing, it was a wealthy and strong expression, and deviated however little, if in any respect, from the collection as developed below Barry Crocket. Therefore, opinions on it had been undivided, and it acquired excessive marks throughout the board.
Midleton Very Uncommon 2010: I used to be given the “heads up” about this classic shortly after coming into the world of whiskey scribbling, because it was the present launch on the time and thought of excellent. Though richly candy, with a physique like apple pie jazzed up with raisins and honey, there’s a rosy, floral side to it as properly. That latter observe actually made this version stand out within the minds of these of us who had been there and buying and selling notes about it.
Midleton Very Uncommon 2008: If the rosy, floral side of 2010 made it a stand-out expression for 2008 it was the earthy, woody facets of this one which gave it excessive marks. The cedar and low notes contrasted with the staple Irish sweetness. That is additionally far sufficient again when folks may very well be forgiven for considering that Midleton Very Uncommon was an everyday product, somewhat than a collection of distinct restricted editions. Particular person bottles didn’t have details about the age vary it was made with, and there was a lot much less fanfare about these items a decade and a half in the past. I knew loads of of us who thought this was the identical stuff every yr; good, however unchanging.
Midleton Very Uncommon 1996: This one will get on the listing for a easy purpose, specifically that it’s the oldest instance of Midleton Very Uncommon I’ve ever heard anybody consult with particularly and on good phrases. For twentieth Century examples of Midleton Very Uncommon, it’s such a distant reminiscence that I commentary is available in three varieties: imprecise recollections concerning the model from both the Nineteen Eighties, Nineteen Nineties or each; how atypical the inaugural launch was; or good references to this one.