The mid-20th century wasn’t a happy time for Irish distilleries. Despite inventing whiskey hundreds of years earlier, factors such as the Irish Civil War, a trade war with Britain, and American Prohibition nearly demolished the Irish whiskey industry, to the point where only two distilleries were left in the Emerald Isle by 1972. In 1975, one of the two, Midleton (the other being Bushmills), shifted operations from the Old Midleton Distillery to the New Midleton Distillery next door. Quite a few untapped casks remained at the time from the old warehouse, but today most of them are gone, with the exception of the ones used in Midleton’s Silent Distillery Collection. Now, the whiskey producer has unveiled Chapter 4 in its ultra-aged series.
Launched in 2020 in preparation for Old Midleton’s 200th anniversary in 2025, Midleton Very Rare’s manufacturer, Irish Distillers, decided to release the first of six in the Silent Distillery Collection, which pulls from the stock at the Old Midleton Distillery, which has the oldest collection of whiskey in Ireland. Chapter 1 was a peated single malt aged 45 years. From there, each annual expression — or Chapter — has increased its age by one year. This means that Chapter 4 comes from liquid that’s been sitting in ex-bourbon barrels for 48 years (Chapter 6 will be a 50-year-old expression).
While Chapter 4 combines grain and pot still whiskeys, each distilled and aged separately beginning in 1973, the liquids were recently blended together in a single cask for an extra 48 days, yielding just 119 bottles in total. On the palate, the sweet and floral profile is filled with complex notes of stone fruit, spice, ginger, and even hints of Roquefort cheese.
Obviously, a whiskey this old won’t come cheap. The Silent Distillery Collection: Chapter 4 is priced at a whopping €50,000 (~$55,096). Register your interest at Midleton Very Rare’s website.