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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

February 4, 2014


Some Irish, most from Midleton

Midleton and Irish Distillers keep pushing it with several new versions of Midleton. We won’t complain, many have already been excellent in 2012 and the year before – in my own little book of course.

Powers 'Gold Label' (43.2%, OB, Irish blend, +/-2013)

Powers 'Gold Label' (43.2%, OB, Irish blend, +/-2013) Three stars With a new strength of 43.2 instead of 40 or 43% vol. I like the ‘hand crafted’ mention on the lable, when you know the size of Midleton Distillery ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: what I get is mostly burnt wood and caramel, as well as a little honey and brioche. Feels light despite the improved strength and the touches of wood smoke. Mouth: this is much nicer! Some pot still character, a fattiness, a lot of honey, vanilla and maple syrup, touches of overripe bananas and a few slices of tinned pineapple. Good body. Finish: quite long, sweet and creamy. A little bubblegum. Comments: there’s no need to try to nose these babies, I imagine. I really liked the palate. I had the Gold Label at 79 pts for a 40% version, this should be higher. SGP:541 - 81 points.

Paddy 7 yo 'Centenary Edition' (43%, OB, Irish Pot Still, 2013)

Paddy 7 yo 'Centenary Edition' (43%, OB, Irish Pot Still, 2013) Three stars This baby by Midleton ‘of course’ and it is pure – or rather single - pot still this time, while the regular Paddys are blends. Colour: gold. Nose: firm and yet rounded and rather tropical, with also this very idiosyncratic blend of hay and metal that I often find in pure pot still. Bananas, coconut milk, pineapples, maple syrup, then pine needles and drops of eucalyptus oil. Very nice fresh signature in this nose. Mouth: fatter and bigger than the Powers, a little drier as well, with some chocolate and coffee before we’re going on with more oranges and pineapples plus vanilla and honey. Quite some cinnamon too, which suggests there’s quite some active oak involved. Finish: rather long and grassier. Apple peel. Comments: the Powers was easier on the palate, while the Paddy had a nicer nose in my opinion. Very good stuff anyways. SGP:551 – 82 points.

Powers 'Signature Release' (46%, OB, Pot Still, 2013)

Powers 'Signature Release' (46%, OB, Pot Still, 2013) Two stars and a half Single pot still matured in bourbon wood with the addition of a few sherry casks. Colour: gold. Nose: I liked the Paddy better, I think there’s a little too much sweetish vanilla and fudge in this nose, it’s a little overpowering, and there’s even quite some warm sawdust. I remember Powers John’s Lane very well, that one had much more depth and complexity. Mouth: I have the same feeling, this is too rounded and kind of ‘inflated’. Vanilla, maple syrup, other syrups, marshmallows… Don’t get me wrong, it’s very easy and pleasant but I find it simply too sweet. Finish: rather long, with some white pepper. Comments: the oak shows, so not my favourite Powers… Oh, and the regular 12 is much more to my liking too. SGP:541 - 77 points.

Midleton 'Very Rare 2013' (40%, OB, Irish blend)

Midleton 'Very Rare 2013' (40%, OB, Irish blend) Three stars Isn’t it a little bizarre that they keep bottling the ‘Very Rare’ at 40% while all other ‘deluxe’ Midletons are comeing out at 43 or 46 or more? Or maybe the owners just want to respect traditions… Colour: gold. Nose: maybe the Irishest of them all at this point, this baby bursts with coconuts, bananas, vanilla and blood oranges. Add a little honey and beeswax and you’ve got an extremely easy and sexy nose. And it’s not even weak. A touch of wood smoke in the background. I like this much better than older versions of the Very Rare that I’ve always found wishy-washy. Mouth: extremely easy and seductive, and not weak. All-fruit compote, acacia honey, tinned fruits, mangos and guavas. This is almost fortified fruit juice. Finish: a little short but clean and fruity. Not much aftertaste, maybe a little cinnamon… Comments: in great progress, even if some parts remain a little weak because of the low strength. SGP:730 - 82 points.

Teeling Vintage Reserve 21 yo 'Silver Bottling' (46%, OB, Irish, 2013)

Teeling Vintage Reserve 21 yo 'Silver Bottling' (46%, OB, Irish, 2013) Four stars and a half Maybe ex-Cooley stock as Mr Teeling used to own the distillery. First-hand selection? Or another distillery? Let’s see… It also seems this baby was finished in Sauternes casks, which could make senses (or not?) as Irish whiskeys and Sauternes often share some characteristics in my opinion. Colour: gold. Nose: woohoo! A whole basket of fruits with some earth and a little iron in the background to prevent it from becoming too, well, too fruity. Pineapples, papayas, apricots, quinces, mirabelles… yeah well, everything yellow, really. No, wait, also blood oranges, then earthy tea, pu-erh-style and indeed something Sauternes-y in the back of the back. My kind. Mouth: a combo that works perfectly. It’s very fruity but it hasn’t got that dullness that some ueber-fruity whiskies can display. I cannot not think of banana wine like they make in Guadeloupe, or coconut liqueur, touches of muscat, kiwi and strawberry jam… Also sandalwood and cinnamon from the oak, as well as a little ginger. Hard to resist! Finish: medium length, with more tropical fruits and more cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: just superb, now I understand why my compadres from the Malt Maniacs have granted this baby with a big fat MM Award. Not too sure about the original distillery though, but it says ‘single malt’… SGP:651 - 88 points.

All right, I think we have some room for one or two high-strength Irish…

Writer's Tears Cask Strength (52%, Irish, Pot Still, 1800 bottles, 2012)

Writer's Tears Cask Strength (52%, Irish, Pot Still, 1800 bottles, 2012) Four stars I found the first version at 40% absolutely excellent (WF 87) so I have deep hopes… Colour: gold. Nose: pure honey and fruit liqueurs. Imagine all the fruit liqueurs you know about, blend them ‘mentally’, add some honey and some vanilla cream and there, you have it. With water: I really like these notes of earth and even the minerality that comes out, all those are clear and obvious plusses. Mouth (neat): sure it’s bigger than the lighter version (bravo, Serge!) but it’s also more citrusy, it seems. But other than that, it’s all on the expected pineapples, coconuts, bananas and marshmallows. With water: a lot of saponification happening, you have to wait for a good fifteen minutes. But then it keeps going on herbs and earth and peelings. Finish: quite long, grassier. Comments: so it’s not one that’s fully on fruits. I’d say quality is similar to that of the 40% version. SGP:551 - 87 points.

And a last one…

Midleton 1997/2013 (59.5%, OB, LMDW, 1st Fill Bourbon Cask, cask #7102, 228 bottles)

Midleton 1997/2013 (59.5%, OB, LMDW, 1st Fill Bourbon Cask, cask #7102, 228 bottles) Two stars and a half I think these single casks are horribly expensive (around 340€ a bottle). Colour: straw. Nose: I don’t know if that’s the high strength but this one rather starts with gewürztraminer notes, including litchis and ripe nectarines. And then it becomes more bourbony, with a massive vanilla, coconut and litres of maple syrup. Maybe apricot liqueur too. American oak in full swing. With water: same. A little more toasted oak. Mouth (neat): bourbon, that’s all I can say. Good bourbon for sure, and sure the fruitiness is quite immense, but it’s got something a little ‘too much’ for me. Sweet oak liqueur, or ultra-strong pina colada. With water: the cinnamon comes out. Finish: quite long, with a ‘greener’ tannicity. Comments: probably excellent, but certainly not my preferred style. Maybe I should add that I’m not a huge fan of pina colada. I tried a 1991 for TWE a while back that, while displaying a similar profile in principle, got much more complex, which completely changed the outcome. SGP:641 - 78 points.

(with thanks to the excellent Mr Keith Wood for most of those pictures)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Irish I've tasted so far







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