Midleton Very Rare Vintage 2023, Michter's 10 Year Old Single Barrel (2023 Release), & More [New Releases]
February 24, 2023 –––––– Julia Higgins
Among the new releases this week is an American single malt from Yellowstone, which has always been tied exclusively to bourbon. Up until last summer, no formal guidelines for American single malts existed; technically, they still don’t, as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has yet to officially sign off on the rules it first put on the table in July 2022. But many American single malt producers expect those guidelines to be in place soon enough, and the floodgates to more American single malts from producers both small and large have already opened.
Among other releases, it's a week to welcome back some returning stars, including Midleton Very Rare, Michter's 10 year old single barrel bourbon and Benriach's 16 year old expression. While Midleton's arrival is right on schedule, Michter's 10 had been absent for year, and Benriach The Sixteen had left us in 2016. Read on for full details.Midleton Very Rare Vintage 2023Style: BlendOrigin: IrelandAge: Not statedABV: 40%Price: $250Release: February 2023Availability: Limited
Need to know:Midleton master distiller Kevin O’Gorman has unveiled the 40th vintage of Midleton Very Rare, and this year’s release is in recyclable packaging rather than its usual wooden box. The single pot still and single grain components for the 2023 blend–the third Midleton Very Rare release to bear O’Gorman’s name–come from a stone warehouse built in the 1860s that’s used to mature Midleton’s best casks. Each Midleton Very Rare vintage has its own taste profile, and O’Gorman has boosted both the traditional and lighter pot still components this year, easing off on the proportion of grain whiskey. American oak flavor characteristics are always central to this whiskey, but greater use of refill casks instead of first-fill bourbon casks has toned down the wood influence on Vintage 2023.
Whisky Advocate says:Since Midleton Very Rare is highly collectible, the new packaging will need to be particularly durable as it may not be recycled for many decades and might also have multiple owners. Bottles of vintages from the 1980s came in satin-lined card boxes and still sell for large sums at auction if they’re in good condition. This week, Irish Distillers also announced that the first Irish whiskey NFT on BlockBar would go on sale February 28th. Midleton Very Rare The Pinnacle Vintage is priced at $130,000 and is a single bottle vatting of all 40 previous Midleton Very Rare vintages, plus a single pot still cask sample distilled in 1984. Through its Royal Salute blended scotch whisky label, Irish Distillers parent company Pernod Ricard is already an active player in the whisky NFT marketplace.
Michter’s 10 year old Single Barrel (2023 Release)Style: Straight bourbonOrigin: KentuckyAge: 10 year oldABV: 47.2%Price: $185Release: March 2023Availability: Limited
Need to know:Michter’s 10 year old single barrel bourbon returns after skipping its release 2021. When it came time to select the barrels for last year’s expression, the Michter’s team decided it wasn't ready and would benefit from more maturation time. That resulted in a year-long delay, and Michter’s fans are now more eager than ever to see it back.
Whisky Advocate says: Michter’s has made a habit lately of bringing back fan-favorite editions after a brief hiatus. In January, it announced the return of Celebration Sour Mash, and its US*1 Toasted Barrel Sour Mash was rereleased in August for the first time since 2019. Michter’s has always been scrupulous about about releasing its whiskeys only when they're ready–a philosophy that started with its first Kentucky master distiller Willie “Dr. No” Pratt, who earned that nickname for refusing to approve anything until he felt it had reached peak maturity. Our tasting panel scored the 2021 release of Michter’s 10 year old bourbon 91 points. We spoke to Michter’s president Joseph Magliocco earlier this week about the return of this much-coveted bourbon.Benriach The SixteenStyle: Single maltOrigin: Scotland (Speyside)Age: 16 year oldABV: 43%Price: $115Release: February 2023Availability: Nationwide
Need to know:Speyside single malt maker Benriach discontinued its 16 year old expression in 2016, and now it’s back as a permanent member of the core range, which also includes a 10, 12, and 21 year old. This whisky was matured in a combination of bourbon, sherry, and virgin oak barrels.
Whisky Advocate says:Benriach has undergone a reimagining since Brown-Forman acquired the distillery, along with the GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh, in 2016. The following year, Rachel Barrie became master blender for all three operations. Barrie has injected new life into Benriach, introducing new expressions and reformulating old ones. In 2020, the brand unveiled four whiskies: The Original Ten, The Smoky Ten, The Original Twelve, and The Smoky Twelve. The last of those earned the No.-3 spot on Whisky Advocate’s Top 20 list in 2020, scoring 94 points. All of them use a three-cask maturation recipe, as does The Sixteen, with Barrie pulling from her vast library of casks. She has also provided more rarified Benriach expressions with the annual limited releases Smoke Season and Malting Season, first introduced in 2021.
Writers’ Tears Single Pot Still Style: Single pot still Origin: IrelandAge: Not statedABV: 46%Price: $80Release: February 2023Availability: Limited release of 3,000 bottles for the U.S. available in 15 states: CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, IN, MA, MD, MN, MO, NJ, NY, TX, WA, WI
The Irishman Vintage Cask (2023 Release)Style: Blend of single malt and single pot still Irish whiskeysOrigin: IrelandAge: Not statedABV: 55.3%Price: $155Release: February 2023Availability: Global release of 8,400 bottles; 1,200 for the U.S.
Need to know:Walsh Whiskey is releasing two new premium Irish whiskeys this week. First is the arrival of its inaugural single pot still whiskey for the U.S., and second is the 15th annual release of The Irishman Vintage Cask, a triple distilled, cask strength blend of aged single malt and single pot still whiskeys selected by co-founder Bernard Walsh.
Whisky Advocate says:Writers’ Tears is normally a pot still-forward brand that's blended with Irish single malts. This single pot still whiskey release, which is triple distiled, joins its core range. It was initially matured in bourbon casks before being further matured in Spanish PX sherry casks and Sicilian Florio marsala hogsheads. The Irishman is a malt-led expression, comprising a range of both single malts and blends of single malts and single pot still whiskeys. Global allocation of The Irishman Vintage Cask has increased by 38% since last year, though the U.S. allocation remains the same. Bernard Walsh makes a different Vintage Cask release every year so that fans of The Irishman series can enjoy a new drinking experience with every bottle. Yellowstone American Single Malt
Style: Single maltOrigin: IndianaAge: 4 year oldABV: 54%Price: $55Release: March 2023Availability: Nationwide
Need to know: From Limestone Branch Distillery, Yellowstone American single malt is distilled in Indiana, crafted from 100% malted barley, and aged for 4 years. This is the first single malt from the brand, which currently has a straight bourbon and annually released limited-edition bourbons.
Whisky Advocate says: Brothers Stephen and Paul Beam—seventh-generation descendants of Jim Beam founder Jacob Beam and great-great grandsons of bourbon pioneer J.W. Dant—founded Limestone Branch Distillery in 2011 and took over production of Yellowstone in 2015. This whiskey has a long history, technically getting its start in 1854, when J.B. Dant (J.W.’s son) first made it. The whiskey was christened as Yellowstone in 1872, shortly after the eponymous national park opened. Yellowstone's own distillery was operational by the 1880s, then later sold to fellow Kentucky distiller Glenmore in 1944. By the 1960s, Yellowstone was the top-selling whiskey in Kentucky. It then went through a series of owners, moving to United Distillers (today’s Diageo), then David Sherman Company, then Heaven Hill, and then back to the David Sherman Company, which ultimately became Luxco, which was then acquired in early 2021 by MGP–its current co-owner, in a partnership with Limestone Branch. Whew!