A long wait for a very special whiskey, and a long time to save up to have it …
Thanks to our modern world – an age of instant answers – patience is no longer a part of human nature. But in lockdown, we rediscovered the pleasure of not running our lives against a ticking clock. We found the joy in taking time to appreciate the finer, simpler things in life.
Well, if the Midleton Very Rare Silent Distillery Collection is anything to go by – the best things in life are worth a wait.
Midleton Very Rare is produced in the fabled close to 200-year-old Midleton Distillery, Co Cork, which operated until 1975, where the casked copper pot whiskies are the last of their kind. It is home to The Midleton Very Rare Silent Distillery Collection, a collection of six vintages or “Chapters” (ranging in age from 45-50 years old), one of which is released every year until 2025. Achieving its “peak perfection” while the country could not venture out during lockdown, the Second Chapter of this fine collection was launched to a select global audience behind closed doors. Master Distiller Kevin O’Gorman hosted a virtual tasting of the exceptional 46-year-old single pot still Irish whiskey, distilled in the signature Old Midleton style. With just 70 bottles in existence, this is rarity indeed.
The Chapter Two vintage honey-coloured nectar has been decanted into handblown and etched crystal decanter bottles, produced by Waterford Crystal, with each of the bottles individually numbered 1-70. Each bottle comes in a bespoke wooden cabinet handcrafted by Irish designer, John Galvin, using wood up to 200 years old from reclaimed oak whiskey vats and ancient Elm and rare Japanese Tamo woods. Oh yes – this is a spirit with some soul, alright.
We poured ours, from dainty cork-stoppered sampling bottles, into a pair of Waterford tumblers. It gleamed beautifully in the cut glass and the ceremony began. Master Distiller Kevin showed us how to “open up” the whiskey with well-judged drop of water, thoughtfully supplied by Midleton from the Dungourney river. He hinted at the notes we should pick up on: the first impression of the glowing liquid, as it swirled in the glass, is a vibrant, fruity bouquet intertwined with a pleasing hint of exotic spices and soft sweetness. The two decades spent in seasoned oak casks gives it a woody definition, initially. A sip suggests an assortment of berry fruits and mellow pot still spices, building in intensity as we tasted, with hazelnut and leathers to finish. It was delicious: like no other whiskey we had tried.
When you think of the journey it’s had, this whiskey has provenance: distilled in the world’s largest copper pot still, Chapter Two was aged undisturbed for 20 years in sherry and bourbon casks, before being married and recasked into bourbon casks. Years passed, then the whiskey was recasked again, laid down, gaining further depth and complexity until deemed to have acquired the optimum rich fruit and oak contribution. For the concluding part of the journey, the whiskey finally rested in a refill Bourbon cask, allowing the many influences to combine and further evolve.
Unlike investments in art, or antique jewellery, an investment in ultra-rare whiskey in 2021 will reliably fetch you a good return, according to Forbes. From cask schemes to buying and holding, global interest in the liquid has grown over the past decade. As the ultimate expression of craftsmanship and luxury, this type of rare whiskey is uniquely attractive to investors.
If the fiery, complex taste doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, the price might. A bottle of Chapter Two – only 70 of its kind out there, remember – will retail for €40,000. The stuff dreams are made of.
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