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Monday, March 20, 2017

Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy Irish Pot Still Whiskey

I heard a rumor that St. Patrick's Day was celebrated last Friday. Between working on the Scotch Market in Flux series, and then having my two-year-old daughter all to myself for three days, I'm forced to just take the calendar's word that Saint Pat's actually happened.

Long time readers may have noticed that I've stopped reviewing Irish whiskies over the past couple years. To be honest, I haven't really been drinking much Irish whiskey either. I'm not terribly inspired by the new crop of Jameson spinoffs since I found Black Barrel to be awful. We don't get too many of the Teeling bottlings here in The States, and I can't afford the suddenly ultra-luxury 20+ year old indie Irishes. But I do remain on Team Irish Pot Still.

The first time I saw the price tag on Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy, I exclaimed "What the heck?" or something of that nature. For years I'd been drinking $15 blends, then moved up to $40 pot stills. But I'd never heard of a $200 Irish whiskey. Especially an Irish whiskey without an age statement.

My my, have things changed in five years. The $15 blend is now $30. The $40 pot still is now $60. And there are a lot of Irish whiskies selling for three figures. Last year I tried one Irish whiskey that justified its three-figure price tag. And now I have tried another.

Brand: Midleton
Distillery: Midleton
Country: Ireland
Type: Single Pot Still
Age: I've read many things: "15 to 25 year old whiskies", "up to 25 year old whiskies", "22 years old"; so I'd say "probably a little of each and some of none".
Maturation: American oak, "seasoned and unseasoned". So ex-bourbons and virgin oak, I suppose.
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? Probably
(Thank you to Eric Sanford for another excellently designed sample bottle. It took me all of three years to actually open this one.)

The nose is filled with beautiful peach and mango notes that remind me of '60s bourbon cask Longmorn. And the cara cara oranges we used to get at the Long Beach farmers' market. Aromatic chili pepper, tangerines and smoked paprika. But there's a metallic heft to it that just sings "Powers". After an hour, a musty dunnage note floats in, alongside rich vanilla bean. After 90 minutes, it's a basket of oranges.

The palate starts with salted caramels and mango, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. A great herbal bite. Toffee pudding. Fresh banana (and for the first time ever, for me, that's a good thing). Talisker 18-esque cayenne pepper. Tart lemons. After an hour it starts getting a salty edge which frames the fruity sweetness. After 90 minutes it's quite malty and warm with hints of apricots and honeydew.

So much fruit in the finish, I can't even sort it out. And there's toffee pudding and chili oil. Sweet but not too. Some chest-warming heat. And the fruits keep rolling through, all melons and tropical things.

These two ounces of Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy made for a thrilling two hours. The Legacy was reminiscent of old bourbon cask Balbair and Longmorn, and some old cognac, but with a Powers undertow. There is definitely a lot of older barrels in the mix, and while there are moments of new oak action, they're scarce and well-integrated. Despite the ridiculous grade I gave the old Redbreast 12, five years ago, this is the best Irish whisky I've reviewed on this site. Some day I'll have to try it next to Redbreast 21yo to see which one is the supreme champion. In the meantime, WOW.

Availability - Many specialty liquor retailers in US and Europe
Pricing - anywhere between $150 and $300 in the US and Europe
Rating - 93 (Irish whiskey bias in effect, possibly, maybe, whatever, this is excellent whiskey)