Sebastian Says… it’s good to sample Middleton Irish Whiskey


I was lucky to enjoy an impromptu vertical tasting of Middleton Irish Whiskey the other week and I thought I’d jot down a few words.

We have two vintages of this glorious drop at 1806, the 2004 and the 2006. One of our regulars who we hadn’t seen for a while popped in early one evening with a bottle of the newly released 2007 that he had tracked down in the US. So we figured, hey, lets compare them all.


For those of you who have not tried Middleton, do so. This is one of the greatest whiskies in the world, a single barrel, pot distilled, hand picked Irish Whiskey from the personal choice of Jameson Master Distiller Barry Crocker. He picks a barrel or two that are between sixteen and twenty years old, usually about eighteen, and bottles it at 40%.  The whiskey is usually from American oak barrels, but it changes every year. The Middleton releases are not vintage whiskies and they do not have an age label. They are the personal favourite barrels from that year. No two releases are the same, so I was really looking forward to the opportunity to taste three together.

The style is thick and syrupy, with a generous dash of sweet esters, so much so that there is a feel of liquid toffee when the golden drops hit your tongue. It then moves through light, complex spices and dried stone fruit like apricot and nectarine. It is actually a bit lighter than the usual Jameson style, with the length and complexity being made up from a whole host of complicated sweet esters and hints of violets and citrus. In style the nose is a little like a cognac, but the palate has that familiar dry touch that all whiskey lovers know.

Back to the booze at hand.  There was an instant stand out. The 2006 is just SO smooth and full.  Lots of syrup, toffee, spices, dried fruit, flowers, and just yummy.

The next favourite, that is probably a little closer to a more traditional top shelf whiskey, was the 2007.  More leather, the cinnamon is more forward, and there is a toasty fruit cake backbone that seems to hold all the flavours together.  Slightly more complex than the 2006, but requires more thought and consideration, and a bit less of the instant smile the 2006 invites.

Unfortunately, the 2004 is a bit of a poor cousin to the other two.  It is a tough call because all three releases that we tasted were exceptional, but the 2006 and 2007 were above and beyond anything we ever suspected. That left the 2004 languishing a bit as just a fantastic whiskey rather than attaining full status of divine elixir.

For all you die hard scotch fans who have not had the opportunity to try an Irish whiskey that is truly sublime and one of the the greatest distilled liquids on the planet, you will have to head over seas if you want one. Alas the good people at Jameson’s don’t make enough for Australia to get an allocation except occasionally, and they all go fast.  Expect to pay between $200 – $300 for a bottle depending on the exchange rate.  When it is newly released there are usually a few Duty Free in the UK and US if you are lucky, in which case you will save a few pennies.  Other than that, if you ever see a bottle, buy it, delicious.

Sebastian Reaburn is the co-owner of 1806 ( and Mixology Management (

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