This Is the World’s Most Wanted Irish Whiskey

Midleton Very Rare Vintage isn't cheap, but the annual release garners the most search requests for any Irish whiskey

Midleton Very Rare 2024
Midleton Very Rare 2024

A rare Irish whiskey — with “Very Rare” as part of its literal name — is the most wanted Irish whiskey in the world, according to the e-commerce and price comparison site Wine-Searcher.

The boozy shopping site quantifies its rating by the most-searched-for whiskey in its database, and Midleton Very Rare Vintage Blend tops the searches. Coming in at a whopping $342 on average (which actually represents a 33% price drop in the last two years), Very Rare represents the collective work of prior and current blenders at the Irish distillery (Barry Crockett, Brian Nation and Kevin O’Gorman). Each year since 1984 has brought forth a new “vintage” release; depending on the year, the price fluctuates quite a bit. For example, a 2009 vintage is going for just less than $8,000.

Notes current Midleton Master Distiller Kevin O’Gorman on this year’s release, it’s 40th: “When creating the annual vintage, my aim is to preserve the timeless elegance and finesse of the liquid that has become synonymous with the Midleton Very Rare brand over the last 40 years, while introducing my own twist by carefully adjusting elements such as grain and pot still whiskey contributions, as well as cask selections, to unveil new flavors.”

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In my review of the 2021 vintage, I suggested the whiskey offered “some floral and fruity notes (banana and kiwi), but fudge, toffee and vanilla were wonderfully prevalent. From there, a first sip coated the mouth with creamy butterscotch and vanilla, with a little dried fruit and some melon arriving in further sips. Baking spices rounded out the finish.”

Midleton is part of Irish Distillers, the parent brand to other Irish whiskey giants Jameson, Redbreast, Spot Whiskeys, Method & Madness, Powers and Knappogue Castle. The first two of those make an appearance on Wine-Searcher’s top 10 list, with Jameson surprisingly coming in second place for its core $31 blended Irish whiskey release; the brand also has the most expensive bottle on the list, the $1649 Rarest Vintage Reserve.

“Looking at that list…you’d think we were still living back in the days when there were only two distilleries on the island of Ireland, instead of the 30-something there are today,” notes Wine-Searcher writer Don Kavanagh. “None of those names will be unfamiliar to anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with Irish whiskey: Jameson, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew, the ‘Spots,’ Bushmills. Perhaps what is most surprising is the appearance of the standard Jameson, Tullamore Dew and Bushmills Original – none of these whiskeys are particularly hard to find, certainly not compared to the likes of the Blue Spot or the Redbreast Port Cask.”

If you want a bottle that goes beyond the well-known names above, check out our list of the 40 best Irish whiskeys.


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