By Richard Thomas
When Irish Distillers attach the name of their distillery, “Midleton,” to a whiskey, you know they mean business. Midleton Very Rare, for example, is almost the byword in super premium Irish whiskeys, while Midleton Dair Ghaelich is the showcase for the revival of maturation in new Irish oak.
It therefore shouldn’t be surprising that when the living legend of Irish whiskey, Barry Crockett, retired as Master Distiller at Midleton in 2013 after 47 years of service, they would name a Midleton after him. Even so, it is a touch ironic, given that Crockett’s tenure with the company predates the establishment of New Midleton Distillery by several years.
Barry Crockett is giving a talk today, one which I was unable to attend due to my family duties. That makes this as good an occasion as any to make this look at Barry Crockett’s legacy expressed in a bottle.
Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy is, very appropriately, a single pot still whiskey drawn from mostly well-aged casks. I say “appropriately” not just because of Crockett’s long service, but also because he was arguably the single most important figure in the preservation and revival of single pot still whiskey. Insofar as the “well-aged” part goes, this is an no age statement (NAS) whiskey, but draws from casks up to a quarter-century old. It is also a regular, limited release, coming out every year in batches of 2,500 bottles.
In an odd touch, this 46% abv whiskey draws not just on the ex-bourbon barrel matured whiskey that is the bedrock of so much of what is done in Ireland and Scotland, but also on a modest proportion of whiskey aged in new oak. Not new Irish oak as previously mentioned, mind you, but new all the same. That accounts for certain aspects of the nose in particular.
That nose is delicate and complex, mixing melon and green apple scents with honey and caramel candy, with a touch of cake spice and pine sap for good measure. This is the kind of stuff you’ll want to nose before every sip, looking for more notes that lurk underneath the layer of delicious sweet stuff on the top.
The palate builds on that, despite the ordinary texture. Citrus sweetness and apples are seasoned with cinnamon, vanilla and a hint of sweet tobacco leaf, all with the dual tinges of oak and copper. The flavor of this pot still whiskey is somehow both sophisticated and elemental at the same time.
After all of that, one might wonder why it only rated an “A-” with me, and that is because of the finish. It was long, warm, and was predominately spicy with a little vanilla-oak. It wasn’t bad so much as it wasn’t anything special, leaving the package of this wonderful whiskey just a little incomplete.
Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy is reasonably priced, all things considered. Expect to pay £150, €215 or $225, depending on where you are doing your shopping.