The Scoop On Ireland's Premiere Whiskey, Midleton Very Rare

Brian Nation could very well know whiskey better than anyone in the world. As the Master Distiller at the Midleton Distillery in County Cork, Ireland known for Single Pot Still Irish whiskeys that include Redbreast, Midleton Very Rare, and Green Spot, he's responsible for the quality and taste of all new pot and grain distillates produced in the esteemed Midleton Distillery.

That's right. Nation is not only in charge of the taste of whiskeys that include the recognizable Jameson but also the super-premium Single Pot Still Irish whiskeys such as the aforementioned Redbreast and Midleton Very Rare. With this, he plays a pivotal role in the future of luxury whiskey drinking.

Nation took over the role of Master Distiller once whiskey icon Barry Crockett, the mastermind behind the complex flavors of Midleton Very Rare, retired five years ago. He spent a decade learning from Crockett, who served as both a mentor and friend to Nation throughout his training.

"I consider myself very fortunate to have been trained by someone like Barry,' Nation explained to Scotch Whisky in an interview earlier this year. "...because Barry isn't just an icon of Irish whiskey, he's an icon of all whiskey because of his experience and the affiliation he's had with Midleton distillery."

Launched in 1984, Midleton Very Rare is the ultimate expression of the art and skill of the Master Distiller, recognized as one of the world's most exclusive and sought-after Irish whiskeys. Once a year, Midleton's Master Distiller hand-selects the finest and rarest whiskeys available to him and then carefully blends them to create the annual vintage of Midleton Very Rare, which is matured in American oak barrels.

[[{"fid":"5012647","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","alignment":"center","field_image_alt[und][0][value]":false,"field_image_title[und][0][value]":false,"field_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_image_credit[und][0][value]":"","field_image_credit[und][0][format]":"image_credit","field_has_syndication_rights[und]":"1","field_licensor[und]":"","field_license_id[und][0][value]":""},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","alignment":"center","field_image_alt[und][0][value]":false,"field_image_title[und][0][value]":false,"field_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_image_credit[und][0][value]":"","field_image_credit[und][0][format]":"image_credit","field_has_syndication_rights[und]":"1","field_licensor[und]":"","field_license_id[und][0][value]":""}},"attributes":{"class":"media-element file-default media-wysiwyg-align-center","data-delta":"1"}}]]Only a select number of casks of high enough excellence and rarity to bear the Midleton Very Rare name, making this, the pinnacle of Irish whiskey. Indeed, few whiskeys are as select as Ireland's Midleton Very Rare. Moreover, because it is a hand-crafted whiskey, each year's product tastes slightly different from the last.

"The objective is to produce the best whiskey possible from year to year," said Sean Muldoon, co-founder of New York City's Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in a Forbes article. "The fact that each vintage differs and is only released in very limited quantities (50 barrels per year) makes the whiskey extremely sought after."

In Fall 2017, I had the incredible opportunity to experience the coveted 2017 vintage release of its Midleton Very Rare Cask (which sells for around $159.99 per bottle) in Cork. It was a night of tastings with both Master Distillers, Nation and Crockett, that included a first-time exclusive tasting of The Midleton Very Rare Vintage Collection 1984-2016. The tastings were followed by a curated dinner experience by Michelin star chef Martijn Kajuiten that highlighted the Midleton Very Rare Cask Circle Experience (more on that below). The festivities included a harpist and speeches by whiskey heavyweights and concluded with the Midleton Very Rare 2017 Vintage Release introduced by Brian Nation.

The 34th edition of the Midleton Very Rare annual release features light, floral perfume notes, alongside a hint of citrus. As described by Midleton Very Rare, it offers an aroma of mandarin orange, green banana and vanilla, as well as a touch of cedarwood and charred American Oak. The taste is quite smooth, with flavors of vanilla, red apple and spices such as cinnamon and ginger. The long finish is epitomized by green fruit and stalks of barley.

In conjunction with this release, Irish Distillers launched its Midleton Very Rare Cask Circle program. This is an exclusive, private members club offering people the opportunity to obtain their own cask of Midleton Very Rare Irish whiskey from 30 casks hand-selected by Nation for their flavor and rarity. This includes some of the most exceptional 12 to 30-year-old whiskeys around.