Whiskey Review: Midleton Very Rare 2020

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Irish Distillers. This in no way, per our editorial policiesinfluenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Midleton Very Rare 2020 is the last expression created by master distiller Brian Nation. This is the 37th edition in the highly collectable annual release. Nation has left Midleton after 23 years to become the new master distiller for O’Shaughnessy Distilling Company, opening in Minneapolis this summer. The master distiller role at Midleton is now filled by long time collaborator, Kevin O’Gorman, formerly the master of maturation and only the third to be able to create this exclusive edition.

Once a year, the master distiller hand selects from the Midleton Distillery inventory to create Midleton Very Rare. It is a selection of the finest and rarest to blend and create what has been termed the ‘pinnacle of Irish whiskey’. Nation, the second master distiller to have this honor, following Barry Crockett, the creator of Midleton Very Rare in 1984.

For Midleton Very Rare 2020, Nation chose whiskeys aged 13-35 in lightly charred ex-bourbon American oak barrels. He also “selected a higher pot still inclusion than in some of his previous vintages, while also increasing the use of refill barrels among his choice of casks.”

Midleton is one of the brands under the company name, Irish Distillers which is a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard. Irish Distillers produces Midleton Very Rare, Redbreast, Jameson and Powers. They also produce gin and vodka, among other spirits.

Midleton Very Rare 2020

Midleton Very Rare 2020 (image via Irish Distillers)

Tasting Notes: Midleton Very Rare 2020

Vital Stats: Made of whiskies aged 13-35 in lightly charred ex-bourbon American oak barrels. 80 proof. $199.

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Appearance: Yellow gold. Very impressive and unique bottle.

Nose: The nose is very pleasant and not strong or overpowering. It’s sweet, crisp, and summery. I found notes of vanilla, hay, fresh green apple, and strawberries.

Palate: I was a little disappointed that the nose was different than the palate. The taste is not as sweet as the smell. I would say it’s a little bit tangy and grain forward rather than sweet. It’s light and thin on mouthfeel. I found it grassy and spicy with a sticky sweet aftertaste. My mouth and throat tasted like spicy charred oak and orange peel with pepper and nutmeg.

The Takeaway


Midleton Very Rare was thin on mouthfeel and mellow on flavor. It's overall pleasant and smooth which I find very typical of an Irish whiskey. I wanted there to be a bit of a boost on the flavors to make it a little more memorable but it was still delicious served neat. The flavors change in your mouth from fruity to tangy to spicy. There's a long finish with citrus and spices.

User Rating 3.13 (24 votes)