Irish Distillers, makers of the world’s most enjoyed whiskeys, has unveiled the 2018 vintage of Midleton Very Rare. The 35th edition in the renowned and highly collectable range, first unveiled in 1984, is a masterfully blended Irish whiskey, crafted at the Midleton Distillery, Co Cork, by Master Distiller Brian Nation.
Midleton Very Rare 2018 is the result of the careful blending of exceptional, rare and hand-selected single pot still and single grain Irish whiskeys. Each cask has been matured exclusively in lightly-charred ex-Bourbon American oak barrels for between 12 and 28 years, imparting a vanilla sweetness which is in keeping with the rich tradition laid down by the series over the past four decades.
The 2018 edition offers a subtle floral note alongside a hint of fresh herbs and citrus from the Irish grain whiskey contribution, which is complemented by the spicier Irish single pot still whiskey characteristics of cinnamon, clove and black pepper. The vanilla sweetness contrasts with the charred oak to deliver a finishing touch of orchard fruit, green banana and a hint of barley sugar.
Bottled at 40% ABV, Midleton Very Rare 2018 is available globally from this month at the RRP of €180 in markets including Ireland, the UK, and the US.
Brian Nation, Master Distiller at Midleton Distillery, commented: “It is a great honour to have my signature on the front of each bottle of Midleton Very Rare, and this acts as the ultimate guarantee of quality from the Midleton Distillery. We set aside very small amounts of particularly fine single pot still and single grain distillates each year so that the Midleton Very Rare legacy can continue. This practice has been going on for over 40 years and today we are the proud custodians of the exceptional distillates with a duty of care to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy the pinnacle of Irish whiskey as we do today.”
Jameson Irish Whiskey, which is produced by Irish Distillers in Midleton Distillery, is set to pilot a new and innovative take on the classic combination of Irish whiskey and coffee; Jameson Cold Brew. Jameson Cold Brew will be trialled in limited quantities from September 2018 in response to the growing global appetite for Irish whiskey, quality coffee and coffee-driven cocktails such as the espresso martini.
Jameson Cold Brew is a combination of triple-distilled Jameson Irish Whiskey and refreshing cold brew coffee extract, crafted from the finest, 100% Fairtrade arabica beans from Columbia and Brazil. The result is a smooth, new Irish whiskey experience, with a bold coffee taste balanced with charred wood on the palate and a warming mouthfeel on the finish.
Underpinning the long-standing association between Jameson and coffee, Jameson Cold Brew is best served over ice or in a coffee cocktail such as the Jameson Cold Brew martini or the Jameson Cold-Fashioned. The pilot innovation is set to inspire bartenders and appeal to lovers of whiskey, coffee and food with a new Jameson experience that can be enjoyed from day to night.
Jameson Cold Brew is set to tap into the rise in popularity of both Irish whiskey and coffee culture in key cities around the world, typified by all-day coffee shops that cater for both a daytime caffeine fix and evening cocktail experience. Bottled at 35% ABV, the new release will debut in the Jameson Distillery Bow St, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Dublin Airport from September 2018 at an RRP €28.50.
Brendan Buckley, Strategy, Innovation and Prestige Director at Irish Distillers, commented: “Over the past ten years, we have seen the continued rise in popularity of both Irish whiskey and craft coffee culture, and while the two are no strangers in the glass we wanted to modernise this iconic duo. Jameson Cold Brew combines the best of both worlds in a new and refreshing way and we are confident that Irish whiskey and coffee fans alike will enjoy the taste experience it offers.”
Redbreast has introduced a new, permanent expression to its decorated Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey family; Redbreast Lustau Edition. Finished in hand selected, first-fill sherry butts that are seasoned with Oloroso sherry from the prestigious Bodegas Lustau in Jerez, Spain, this release celebrates the iconic sherry influence found throughout the Redbreast range.
Matured initially in a combination of exceptional ex-Bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks, Redbreast Lustau Edition has been wholly finished for one year in prized sherry butts from Bodegas Lustau in Jerez, the sherry capital of the world.
The result is a new interpretation of the signature Redbreast character with a distinctive twist; Redbreast Lustau Edition offers a nose of dark fruits, prunes and marzipan, a luxuriously rich and creamy texture on the palate with iconic Redbreast spices, and a long, sweet finish complemented by notes of Spanish oak and Oloroso sherry.
With a shared history and kinship for excellence, Redbreast Lustau Edition has been born out of the longstanding relationship between the Midleton Distillery, County Cork, and the unrivalled sherry house, Bodegas Lustau. The unique bond between these two houses was established decades ago, built upon mutual respect for craft production processes, tradition and camaraderie.
Crafted to the exacting standards of Midleton Head Blender, Billy Leighton, Redbreast Lustau Edition is a permanent addition to the Redbreast range. Bottled at 46% ABV and without chill-filtration, Redbreast Lustau Edition is available from this month at the following RRPs; Canada, $90; France, €65; Ireland, €69; and UK, £55. It will also be available in the United States from October 1st 2016, at RRP $69.
On the launch of Redbreast Lustau Edition, Leighton comments: “With Redbreast Lustau Edition we seized the opportunity to celebrate the iconic sherry influence on the Redbreast range, and to do this we turned to our old friends at Bodegas Lustau to source the finest Oloroso sherry casks in the world. I am honoured to be able to finally reveal Redbreast Lustau Edition to the world as it represents the mutual bond, based on our commitment to excellence in craftsmanship, which we have built over time with Bodegas Lustau. Language is no barrier to this marriage of Spanish and Irish craft, and the result is an exceptional new Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey that champions the iconic sherry influence of the Redbreast range, and I hope that whiskey drinkers the world over enjoy it.”
Brendan Buckley, Global Innovation & Prestige Whiskey Portfolio Director at Irish Distillers, adds: “We are delighted to introduce a fifth, permanent expression to the Redbreast range as it demonstrates the appetite among whiskey connoisseurs and spirits aficionados alike for new, innovative and diverse Irish Whiskey offerings. Since we re-launched the brand in 2011, it has gone from strength to strength and we are committed to spreading word of Redbreast around the world as the Irish Whiskey renaissance continues.
“Our work on Redbreast is part of a wider commitment from Irish Distillers to lead the revival of the quintessential Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey style and Irish Whiskey in general, to educate whiskey fans about the breadth and quality that the category has to offer.”
The Midleton Distillery has unveiled Midleton Very Rare 30th Anniversary Pearl Edition; an exclusive, limited edition created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the expression heralded by many whisk(e)y experts as the pinnacle of Irish whiskey.
A true Irish masterpiece and a perfectly balanced exemplar of the Midleton Very Rare style, Pearl Edition is the result of a collaboration between Master Distiller, Brian Nation, and Barry Crockett, Master Distiller Emeritus, who share between them more than 60 years’ distilling experience at the Midleton Distillery in County Cork.
Barry and Brian personally selected a 1984 Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey and a 1981 grain whiskey respectively to blend into a whiskey of exceptional quality. As is tradition, both whiskeys have been matured in American oak barrels, which after 30 years have imparted luscious vanilla and delicate honey flavours.
Local artisans have collaborated to provide exceptional and authentic packaging for the expression, befitting its outstanding quality and rarity. Each presentation pack is bespoke; the Leadbetter family of glassblowers from Jerpoint Glass Studio, Co. Kilkenny, has shaped each bottle individually, which sits in a grand box fashioned from the mightiest Irish oak by some of Ireland’s most-skilled, wood craftspeople from Co. Wexford. The case houses a limited edition, celebratory booklet and a hand-blown miniature of Midleton Very Rare Pearl Edition to allow whiskey lovers to taste and share the whiskey without opening the full bottle.
Midleton Very Rare Pearl Edition continues the tradition of featuring the signature of the creator on the label. As Master Distiller Emeritus, Barry Crockett returned to craft the expression with Master Distiller Brian Nation, the bottle features both names in recognition of their joint creation. Nation comments:
“Midleton Very Rare Pearl Edition has been 30 years in the making; 30 years of craft, 30 years of tradition and 30 years of patience. The liquid, its bottle and the presentation box are examples of the finest Irish craftsmanship, and offer whiskey aficionados the ultimate Irish whiskey experience by perfectly capturing our Irish heritage as we look to the future. Pearl Edition sets a new benchmark for Midleton Very Rare and the distillery’s Prestige Collection, as we continue to craft innovative whiskeys to further enhance the Irish whiskey renaissance.”
Barry Crockett, Master Distiller Emeritus, added: “Few things are worth coming out of retirement for, but the opportunity to be a part of the creation of Midleton Very Rare Pearl Edition is certainly one of them. The whiskey is Midleton’s most prized possession and represents the greatest milestone since I crafted the first ever edition of Midleton Very Rare back in 1984. It is an honour to be a part of this release and Ireland’s rich distilling heritage, and I hope discerning drinkers and whiskey enthusiasts cherish every drop.”
With only 117 bottles in existence, Midleton Very Rare Pearl Edition will be available in Ireland, UK, France, Germany and China, priced at €6,000 or equivalent, from November 2014.
I hold my hands up when ever I conduct or host a tasting, masterclass or seminar and exclaim with the sentence “I confess, I don’t know everything about today’s subject”. Whether that is to be the history of a cocktail, the production of tequila or marketing of a beer, I always have to do my homework, and even then I may still have to refer to my notes to be able to deliver a confident speech or presentation. In my line of work, every day involves some kind of pitch. Even when I was bartending, you have to be confident in selling your products no matter what they are, and that’s exactly what I try to aim towards today. Whether my audience is to be a group of bartenders experiencing pisco for the first time, or thirty wine experts learning about the marketing a product in the modern-day, you have to be prepared for any outcome.
I attend many tastings and masterclasses to learn and experience a wide variety, which hopefully comes across within each article you read on this site. Inevitably I only know and therefore present to you what I take in, with official facts and stories entwined, but the chance to truly understand a category or indeed a specific brand can be rare. I’ve been very lucky since Drinks Enthusiast’s inception in that I have been able to appreciate first hand a variety of brands including Benedictine, Sloane’s, Sibling Distillery, Warner Edwards, Auchentoshan and most recently Grey Goose. All these trips have been an opportunity presented to me and in some cases would be hard for a regular customer to access. One experience is far from this statement, and to the UK, is presented right on the doorstep.
Last week, Irish Distillers of Pernod Ricard invited me to explore their relatively new concept within the Old Midleton Distillery, just outside of Cork. Since February 2013, The Irish Whiskey Academy has been offering an insight into the process of grain to bottle, and explain everything in between through modern and traditional techniques. The academy is taught through a classroom of sorts, within the renovated mill manager’s house at the boundary between the old and new Midleton distilleries. Here begins your journey into one of four packages that the academy offer, all presented by the incredibly knowledgeable David McCabe. For myself and the rest of the whiskey enthusiasts who had joined me from across the UK, Ireland and Netherlands, we experienced the ‘Enthusiast’ package (appropriately named I know!) which meant a two day look at everything the academy can offer.
The arrival at the Old Midleton Distillery offers an enticing view that easily transports you back to the 1800’s and sets the tone for the styles of buildings you will explore. In no particular order of itinerary, a tour of the old buildings dives into the workings of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, with the impressive Warehouse A1, one of the first warehouses that matured Cork Distillery whiskey, a must see. Interactive scenes gives you the best insight into the life of a distillery worker with even the likes of the customs office and waterwheel available to explore.
The main part of the academy though brings you to a comfortable lecture hall styled room. With movable blackboards offering clear diagrams, David McCabe explains everything from the raw materials used within the distillery, how each material is cultivated, brewed and fermented including the upgrade to modern techniques over the decades and the two main distillation methods used; pot and continuous distillation. Hands on approaches are also used, with the ability to see, smell and taste malted and unmalted barley straight from the fields, to the experiment of distilling water and alcohol within the classroom itself. An explanation into the differences between the variety of expressions created at the new distillery is also offered, so that you are fully aware of how each is created and ultimately shows a different flavour profile.
Staves are also handed out for a better understanding of the maturation techniques that the Irish Distillers use, as well as a look into their use of American and sherry oak barrels and how they came to be an integral part of the brands they create. This becomes even clearer with a demonstration within the cooperage itself, hosted by Master Cooper Ger Buckley. Here, Ger explains his role within the company and the art of creating a barrel through the tools used by previous generations. The insight into the woods used and the methods to repair casks that will ultimately hold whiskey for a number of years really gives an indication of how important the role of a Master Cooper can be.
This knowledge will also impart your beliefs and flavours into the blending exercise where you are able to blend your very own whiskey for you to take home. Not many places who can give you that kind of opportunity.
Of course, no academy course would be complete without a lesson in the art of truly appreciating the finished product. Held in the lounge area of the academy, itself adorned with old advertising posters, vintage photos and a wall of bottling’s from the Irish Distillers over the years, you can taste the likes of the Jameson range, Paddy’s, Powers, Midleton, Redbreast and both Green and Yellow Spot. To compliment, lunch at the Malt House, Jameson’s own restaurant within the Old Distillery, is a must.
Although I could write about everything I have learnt from my own two day trip, I feel that It would be more effective to explain within each of the features I have written, so please take a look at my articles of the Irish Distillers portfolio over the coming weeks for a more in-depth look at how each expression is created. In summarising this feature though,
I can’t stress enough that although the academy offers quite literally everything you need to know regarding not just Irish Distillers, but Irish whiskey in general, it’s not just for bartenders or expert whiskey lovers. I can safely say that all grades of knowledge will come away with an idea of what whiskey is all about. The four packages have been created to cater, and whichever you ultimately go for, you will go away with so much more than when you entered.
Get yourself signed up, enjoy yourself and try some fantastic whiskies. The Irish Whiskey Academy should be a high priority for anyone who has even a slight interest in Irish whiskey.
For more information on The Irish Whiskey Academy, please visit their website.
Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard, makers of Jameson, the world’s No.1 Irish whiskey, has unveiled the latest release of its prestigious blended whiskey, Midleton Very Rare.
Regarded as one of the ultimate expressions of Irish Whiskey, Midleton Very Rare is made from hand-selected whiskeys chosen by the Master Distiller from the renowned Midleton Distillery. Blended from only the finest single pot still and grain distillates of the year, the whiskey is matured in a select few, lightly charred, ex-Bourbon American oak casks, contributing to its complex and elegant taste profile, beloved of whiskey connoisseurs across the world.
Midleton Very Rare benefits from the distillery’s trademark triple distillation and a typical ageing time of up to 20 years and features the signature of the Master Distiller on the label, as a guarantee of the unique quality of this rare whiskey. The 2013 edition will be the final expression to feature the signature of Barry Crockett, the former Master Distiller who first developed this prestige whiskey ahead of its launch in 1984 and retired earlier this year after 47 years at the distillery.
Brendan Buckley, Global Innovation and Category Development Director at Irish Distillers, says: “Midleton Very Rare is rightfully regarded as one of the ultimate expressions of the Irish whiskey category and each vintage is cherished by collectors and whiskey connoisseurs. It is a unique whiskey that demonstrates both the outstanding quality of Irish whiskey at the high end of the category and the immense skill of our Master Distiller, so with Midleton Very Rare and the other Prestige whiskeys in our portfolio we’re aiming to show the world that the finest Irish Whiskeys offer exceptional quality that rival the best whiskies from across the world.”
Barry Crockett, former Master Distiller of the Midleton Distillery, says: “Due to the hand crafted nature of Midleton Very Rare, there are slight variances in taste from year to year. The 2013 edition is characterised by a complex yet elegant taste of soft ripe fruits, leading to a generous single pot still spice and a long, balanced finish. The depth and complexity of the expression means it appeals to both collectors and connoisseurs, with the nuances of each annual release making them a must-try spirit for all
Irish Distillers Ltd has reinforced its commitment to rejuvenating the Single Pot Still whiskey style with the release of ten exclusive Single Pot Still single cask whiskeys under the celebrated Midleton brand.
The new expressions highlight the complexity, elegance and balance associated with the Midleton range and have been released exclusively to key accounts in Ireland, France, Germany and the UK.
The new releases follow the launch of Irish Distillers Ltd’s first Single Pot Still single cask customer exclusive at the Celtic Whisky Shop, in November 2010, which saw the retailer sell out of its limited bottle. This success has led Irish Distillers Ltd to extend the initiative to six retailers across Europe and now also includes James Fox Cigar and Whiskey Store, Dublin Airport, La Maison du Whisky, Irisch Lifestyle and The Whisky Exchange. Each retailer is offering their customers between one and three expressions bearing the name of the retailer, the cask number and the Midleton brand name.
Each bottling has been matured in ex-bourbon casks, true to the Midleton style, which have been charred and seasoned with bourbon. The individual casks, which were laid down between 1991 and 1999, have yielded, on average, 185 bottles – making the range highly collectable. Each expression is presented in a premium bottle, following the same design cues as Midleton Very Rare, the most exclusive whiskey produced at The Midleton Distillery.
Casks #7102 and #53735 are exclusive to La Maison du Whisky in Paris and illustrate the individuality of the Midleton Single Pot Still single cask releases. Bonded in 1999, cask #53735 has a light Single Pot Still style with a nose of delicate spice, perfumed rose petal with a touch of garden mint, while cask #7102, bonded two years earlier, is an example of the heavier Single Pot Still style with a balanced nose of spices, herbs and wood. Each of the ten expressions enjoys a long finish, which is typical of the Midleton range.
Barry Crockett, Master Distiller at Midleton Distillery, says: “The Midleton brand name is synonymous with excellence in craftsmanship and the extension of the Single Pot Still single cask releases has allowed us to further showcase the quality of the Single Pot Still style to whiskey connoisseurs, who eagerly anticipate opportunities to taste Midleton whiskeys. The response to the release of cask #71578 in 2010 was phenomenal, so I anticipate a similar reaction this year and look forward to discussing each cask with Single Pot Still whiskey advocates.”
The Irish whiskey category has experienced a near 8% compound annual growth rate between 2005-2010 and its annual 4.9m case sales is expected to reach 7.9m cases by 2016*. Category growth has been boosted with a resurgence in the popularity of the Single Pot Still Irish whiskey style, led by Irish Distillers Ltd. In 2012, work began on a €200 million expansion of Midleton Distillery, significantly increasing its production capability and capacity.