The final whiskey we tasted during the event was the Middleton Very Rare. The Middleton distillery is Ireland’s largest producer of whiskey. It produces a wide variety of brands, including Jameson and Redbreast as well as the Green Spot. Middleton Very Rare was created for the high end market and and sold commercially for the first time in 1984. The whiskies used in the Very Rare are aged between 12 and 25 years in bourbon casks and finished in virgin oak. The whiskey is of the pot still variety and is bottled at 40% abv.
The whiskey is a bright yellow colour and resembles a banana liqueur.
The nose is big on banana a amidst a smattering of dried fruit. The scent was quite mouth watering, leaving me to take it in for quite a while before actually imbibing the liquid.
The palate evokes strong notes of pineapple and banana and memories of spice. This is a full flavoured whiskey with plenty of punch. Some sherry and honey support the feeling of enjoying something rare indeed and a whisper of chocolate raisin completes the experience.
The long finish includes pepper, spice, and mango.
A proper whiskey, one can obtain it for a mere $181 in Ontario at the LCBO and about $150 in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, this is not available in Quebec. It’s a very good whiskey, but at those prices there are finer products on the shelf.
Next up on our tasting menu was Bushmills 16. This distillery, famous for a wide variety of products including the legendary Black Bush, has had a license to distill spirits in Ireland since 1608. Our host indicated that Bushmills produces single malts only and explained that the older whiskies (over 10 years) are the finest examples of Irish distilling.
The Bushmills 16 is bottled at 40% abv after waiting for sixteen years in bourbon and sherry casks. Yes, the whiskey is aged separately in two different types of barrels, then mixed together in equal parts before being poured into port pipes for aging for another several months.
This “three woods” whiskey is a deep amber colour, showing the influence of the port casks in both colour and nose. A wonderful aroma of sherry, honey, and pomegranate tingle the sense.
On the palate, the juicy texture conveys nuts, dried fruit, honey, and warm oak.
The finish is satisfyingly complimentary to the nose and palate. Here, we’re got some grape without too much of the sweetness. This is a dry finish that leaves behind impressions of port all the while keeping a strong whiskey personality.
Overall, this is a fine whiskey. It builds off a strong start and continues to satisfy well into the long finish. I recommend a bottle for all occasions. Priced at $83 at the SAQ in Quebec, it’s comparable if not better than most whiskies in the price range. Note that as of this writing, Ontario and New Hampshire do not carry Bushmills 16, much to the detriment of the inhabitants of these fine regions.