The nose on the Midleton Very Rare Vintage Release 2021 opens gently with peachy, lemony, foaming soap in the bathroom—excuse me, lavatory—of a 1-star Michelin gastropub devoted to gastropods. There’s also apricot oil, the essence of peach pit: A depth of fruit, plumbed by our nasal receptor submarine. Okay, that metaphor breaks down like a rusty Yugo, but you get the idea. There’s a lot of fruit here! We also found Egyptian shellac made from figs, pomegranates, and mashed-up scarab paste. Finally, if ever there is a “finally,” a pink rose, pinned to a lapel, metamorphosing into a tangerine blossom; the nasal equivalent of a CGI effect.
The mouth is sweet, light, and fresh. Fabric-softening dryer sheets made from fallen angel wings (before they fall). It’s puckery enough that the titillating tannins roll my tongue, yet elfin enough that the honeyed mango evanesces like water skittering into vapor upon contact with a hot skillet. There is, before the mad dash to the finish, an almondesque bitterness that emerges along the sides of the tongue before finding fruition at the back of my mouth.
The finish is long, bringing the caramels, syrupy sweet pomelos, papayas, and kiwis. (No, John! Not New Zealander Kiwis! Kiwis from New Zealand! Can you please listen with your eyes?) A dab of anise, or, more comprehensively, mandoline-thin pineapple slices sautéed with fennel bits in ghee and simple syrup. It’s bright, effervescent as a litter of kittens playing together in an empty bathtub, and mysteriously hot for its 40% abv.
On the scale of things that are internet-old, but never get old–
The Midleton Very Rare Vintage Release 2021 is Ariana Grande licking a doughnut–The Midleton is arresting, like the shock of seeing Grande, but not arrested (also like Grande). The Midleton is sweeter than doughnuts, fruitier than her loco behavior, and simultaneously timeless, yet in our time.