Midleton Very Rare Silent Distillery Chapter 2 1973, 53.6%
Irish Single Pot Still | $45,000
Give this an hour to unfurl; the nose reveals aged oak, pot still spice, and engine-oiled machine parts, then milk chocolate, sesame seeds, vintage maps, and calfskin vellum, before chocolate orange and lighter, more pliable wood notes, and eventually shortbread and buttercream. The flavors are so vibrant: a brilliant chocolate-orange creaminess, penetrating pot still spice, gingersnap, barley sugar, and a treacle-like spicy finish that lasts an eternity. (70 bottles)
Briny smoke integrates with sweet bakery aromas: vanilla, streusel, ginger-spiced pound cake, cinnamon, and allspice, studded with nuts and dried apple. With water, butterscotch oozes out. The palate’s silky texture is an ideal base for warm vanilla, toasted nuts, toffee, and milk chocolate, swirling with iodine peat and gentle gingerbread spices. The finish is complex, compelling, and quite lengthy with ginger, white pepper, allspice, saline, coffee grounds, dried apple, and lingering smoke. (Collectible)
Benriach digs into the vaults for this rare gem, and it’s a tour de force. The maturity shows at once, with an antique note of well-aged peat char and dark sherried aromas of dried figs and raisins. The palate offers flavors of cooked berries and baked apple, along with candle wax, dark chocolate, and roasted espresso beans. It all finishes with rich chocolate, old spice rack, and a parting note of ashy peat. A complete whisky.
Dark and rich in both color and aroma, with a deep sherried nose of blackberry cobbler, grape jelly, raisins, dried figs, baked brown sugar, light rancio, and milk chocolate. Tear yourself away from that captivating nose, because it gets even better—a palate of jammy dark fruit, cigar ash, bitter chocolate, and roasted espresso beans, as well as notes of cigar ash, candle wax, and light smoke, all pouring it on at the finish. (633 bottles)
A generous nose, with chocolate-covered cherries, candied orange peel, menthol, cola, pine nuts, caramel, corn bread, and varnish. Piles of baking spice and dark chocolate shavings on the palate mingle with raspberry jam, orange peel, gingersnaps, cinnamon, and mint; water amplifies and brightens the fruit character. A lip-smacking finish of dark chocolate, mint, tobacco, and polished oak.
A mature but still fragrant nose offers mint, dried leaves, antique leather, red berry tea, cherries, and milk chocolate. A deliciously gooey sherried palate is packed with notes of cooked strawberries, dark berry jam, chocolate layer cake, and cinnamon spice, balanced by earthy tones of the warehouse. A smooth, rich finish offers more deep red-fruit jam, rancio, and aged cigar wrapper. Layer upon layer of flavors to enjoy in this elegantly aged beauty. (638 bottles)
Subtlety sets the tone on this well-matured whisky, starting with the gentle smokiness of the nose, presenting as smoked almonds and crème brûlée, along with snickerdoodles, honey, marmalade, dried apricots, milk chocolate, and brown sugar. Water brings out black licorice, dried ginger, and hazelnut cream. Oily citrus, dried apricot and fig, milk chocolate, and candied ginger on the palate, with drying smoke and char. It finishes with cocoa powder, char, and well-woven spice and dried fruit.
Midleton master distiller Kevin O’Gorman’s debut vintage accentuates the elegant nature of Very Rare, and evokes an indulgent nose of rich caramel, dry spices, apple strudel, vanilla fudge, seasoned oak, banana, and toasted coconut. The palate revels in soft orchard fruits with a gentle undertow of spice, bananas in custard, and caramelized sugar. Including single pot still whiskey from 1984, this is fruit-led and so sippable. (Collectible)
Widow Jane 15 year old The Vaults Blend of Straight Bourbons (2020 Release, Batch 1), 49.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $199
Mature aromas of leather, shoe polish, blueberry pie, and iced tea mingle with brown sugar, walnuts, gingerbread, and—after some time in the glass—rose perfume. The palate is chewy like a well-made chocolate bar, rich with roasted and candied nuts, blackberry cobbler, dark chocolate, dried ginger, and white pepper; water and time bring out rose water. The complexity of the palate carries through to the finish, full of coffee bean, Coca-Cola, gingerbread, bittersweet oak, and a touch of mint oil. (5,000 bottles)
Sherry lovers, alight here: This stop is full of Fig Newtons, dates, raisins, brown sugar, candied citrus, dark chocolate, and a delightful dried mango aroma. Generous flavors of berry jam, raisins, figs, and dates mingle with white pepper, dried ginger, candied orange peel, nuts, and dark chocolate tinged with leather and tobacco, along with a mouthwatering salinity. The finish has a phantom chewiness: There’s nothing left in the mouth, but it’s still textured and rich, with smoked nuts, cigar wrapper, and raisins.
Powerful aromas of blackberry cobbler, brown sugar, honey, baking spices, cola, peanuts in the shell, and hay loft give way to a muscular palate that, despite its big oak character, never becomes bitter. Zingy lemon oil, dark berries, cola syrup, espresso, dark chocolate, and roasted peanuts fill out a chewy mouthfeel. The finish has excellent length with rich flavors of chocolate, coffee, roasted nuts, and spices.
Port Askaig 12 year old Sherry and Bourbon Cask (Autumn 2020 Edition), 45.8%
Single Malt Scotch | $120
Loaded with briny peat and barbecued bacon up front, before fresh undernotes of peach, lemon spritz, and ginger begin to emerge. On the palate, bonfire embers are followed by orchard fruits, raspberry jam, and grapefruit, with subdued flavors of vanilla, lacings of chile pepper, and smoldering peat. Water brings out more—lemon cream pie, chocolate, galia melon, and cooked pears. True to the Islay character in its assertiveness, yet also delicate and subtle. (720 bottles)
Roasted herbs, peanuts, and fragrant oak start things off on the nose, followed by notes of dried cherries, cornbread, vanilla frosting, and blueberry pie. A chewy palate offers honeyed almonds, cherry pie, and allspice. Water unlocks dark chocolate, more cherry pie, cinnamon spice, and tobacco leaf. A long spiced finish shows lively herbs, cinnamon sugar, and strawberry jam. Water is highly recommended—it takes this already superb whiskey to even greater heights.
Barrell Cask Strength Blend of Straight Bourbons (Batch 027), 57.85%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90
Pleasant aromas of confectionery store on the nose—candy apples, milk chocolate, grape jelly, and candied coconut—as well as some fresh red fruit notes. Agreeably smooth on the palate, with balanced sweet flavors of chocolate-covered raspberries, candied almonds, cinnamon spice, and coffee. A rich finish offers mint, dark chocolate, drizzled caramel, espresso beans, and cinnamon. A crescendo of fresh red fruit completes a pleasant tasting journey through this well-structured whiskey.
Complex aromas of peanut butter on toast, dulce de leche, strawberry hard candy, lemon iced tea, dark berry jam, orange cake, and cola spices. More spice on the palate—cinnamon and dried ginger—along with peanut brittle, milk chocolate, mint, orange peel, green tea, and ample oak. The finish is lengthy, drawing out all the highlights of the nose and palate: cinnamon candy, peanut butter, peppery spice, baking chocolate, and sweet oak.
Barrell 15 year old Cask Strength Blend of Straight Bourbons (2020 Release), 52.45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $249
Peanuts, corn muffin, blueberry pancakes, well-integrated spice, grape soda, maple syrup, and orange peel on the nose. Chewy and rich with dark chocolate on the palate, studded with dried blueberries and cherries, Spanish peanuts, and dark mocha flavors; water brings out rancio notes but stays on trend with the fancy trail mix profile. Very lengthy mocha, cacao nib, polished oak, and roasted peanuts on the finish.
The sweet aromatic nose offers confectionery notes of cherry candy, candied coconut, cherry coulis, raspberries, marzipan, and a hint of lime. Thick, jammy, and rich on the palate, with notes of almond, strawberry jam, and chocolate syrup. It goes even further with water, unlocking fresh notes of strawberries and cream, allspice, and sherried oak. The finish is equally rich, exploding with cinnamon spice, cooked red fruits, dark chocolate, and a Christmas-spice finale. (612 bottles)
Baked apples, cooked berries, and antique leather on the nose, along with scents of cedar chest, spice cabinet, and vanilla frosting. The palate is richly sherried and chewy, but also bright and loaded with figs, caramelized sugar, chocolate, dark berries, tea, clove, and ginger. A mid-length finish reveals even more pronounced sherried notes and lively spice. Deliciously sippable; a slightly less complex but delightful bookend to the more mature GlenDronach cask expressions. (628 bottles)