Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy

Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy is a premium blend of single pot still whiskeys which have been matured exclusively in American ex-bourbon barrels. First released in 2011, this whiskey bears the the name of their second-generation Master Distiller, and is one of the top quality products produced by Midleton (as you can see from the presentation case, shown below).

As previously discussed, Single Pot Still whiskey is closely associated with Ireland, where it has come to be seen as their quintessentially distinctive style. It is made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley, triple-distilled in traditional copper pot stills. This tends produce more delicate but potentially complex flavours, including the so-called “green” fruity notes, along with a characteristically sticky or greasy mouthfeel (Midleton’s promotional material calls it “creamy”). The aging in standard ex-bourbon barrels allows the distillate the shine through here, without the complex cask management and finishing that comes into play for most blended whiskey products.

Bottled at 46% ABV. I first got to try this whisky in late 2016, from a miniature bottle included in the Midleton premium whiskey set sold at the Duty Free in Ireland’s International terminal (included along with Redbreast 12yo, Powers John’s Lane 12yo, and Green Spot). Although that Powers bottling remains one of my favourite Irish whiskeys, I enjoyed this one enough to purchase a full bottle when I found it at a great deal.

To explain, the price of this whisky is rather high – for years, it was fairly consistently around ~$300 CAD in Ontario and Quebec, and in the ~$330-340 CAD range out west (BC and Alberta).  Then about a year and half ago, one of the big retailers in Alberta got their hands on a large inventory, and dropped the price by ~45% (when I bought my bottle, shown below). Other retailers in Alberta followed suit, and it actually went as low as ~$175 before selling out. Thanks to COVID-19, I haven’t been out west since early this year, so I don’t know its current availability. But it seems to be pretty much sold out most places at the moment (except in BC, which still has it listed at $340, but with low inventory).

For a comparison, Midleton’s other high-end offering – Midleton Very Rare – similar sells for ~$330-340 out west, but oddly is listed at the more reasonable ~$200 in Ontario/Quebec. Again, as a limited batch offering, these bottlings don’t hang around indefinitely, and are not currently in stock in most jurisdictions.

Here is how these higher-end Irish whiskeys compare in my Meta-Critic Database:

Bushmills 21yo Single Malt: 8.97 ± 0.37 on 11 reviews ($$$$$)
Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy: 9.10 ± 0.23 on 16 reviews ($$$$$)
Midleton Dair Ghaelach: 9.06 ± 0.40 on 10 reviews ($$$$$)
Midleton Very Rare (all vintages): 8.81 ± 0.40 on 15 reviews ($$$$$)
Powers 12yo John’s Lane: 8.84 ± 0.37 on 19 reviews ($$$$)
Redbreast 12yo: 8.71 ± 0.41 on 26 reviews ($$$)
Redbreast 12yo Cask Strength: 9.03 ± 0.27 on 27 reviews ($$$$)
Redbreast 21yo: 9.10 ± 0.29 on 20 reviews ($$$$$)

In terms of relative ranking, I agree with the Meta-Critic assessment giving Barry Crockett Legacy a higher score than than the average Midleton Very Rare bottling. Batches can vary though, so you may find an individual Very Rare that better matches your tastes (e.g., see my comparison of the 2015 and 2016 batches).

For this review, I am relying on my notes of the 2016 bottling of Barry Crockett Legacy. When I open my 2018 bottle, I’ll provide an updated review.

Colour: Golden light caramel

Nose: Honey sweetness, with a touch of vanilla. Lots of fruits, with banana, apple, pear, peach and citrus. Some malty notes, with plenty of grass and hay. And something lightly floral, but I can’t quite place it. A bit of caramel shows up eventually. Complex nose, with a lot going on. Slight acetone smell. Water brings up the vanilla, and seems to diminish the acetone note – I recommend a few drops.

Palate: Leads off with honey, caramel and vanilla. Loads of fruit (over-ripened, gooey fruits in particular – almost stewed). The citrus has picked up significantly (grapefruit). Creamed wheat. Some unusual earthy notes, like dried leaves and tobacco. Some cinnamon and cloves, plus ginger. Very complex for an Irish whiskey.  Syrupy mouthfeel, you want to hold in your mouth for a long time to experience the flavours. More ethanol burn than typical for the class and ABV. Slight bitterness creeps in at the end. Water seems to accentuate the tongue tingle a little, but helps with the bitterness.

Finish: Medium long (for an Irish whiskey). Creamed wheat sensation holds the longest, along with some light toffee and vanilla. Fruits fade in and out (winds up being a bit Juicy Fruit gum-like).  Well balanced, with a good mix of sweetness and astringency.

I can see why Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy is so highly ranked – it is one of the most complex Irish whiskies I’ve tried to date.  Personally, I would probably rather sip on a good batch of Midleton Very Rare or Powers John’s Lane 12yo for a relaxing evening – this one demands your attention more. But it definitely seems to highlight the spirit character well (compared to say Redbreast 21yo, where the cask management comes up more clearly).

Among my database reviewers, everyone ranks it highly.  The most outstandingly positive scores come from Michael of Diving for Pearls and Josh the Whiskey Jug. Serge of Whisky Fun, Richard of Whiskey Reviewer, Dominic of Whisky Advocate, The_Muskok and xile_of Reddit and Jim Murray all give it very high marks as well. More moderately positive are TOModera and Whisky_Lads of Reddit.  I’m personally closer to middle of the range of the Reddit reviewers (so, not as high as the Meta-Critic average), but I still consider this a very good dram.

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