Irish Distillers, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, launched two rare whiskies last week to commemorate the 175th anniversary of its Midleton Distillery.

Guests to the celebrations, which included Ned O'Keefe, Minister for State at the Department of Agriculture, Food & Rural Development, were able to taste the Midleton 26 Year Old together with a cask strength sample of the 2000 selection of the Midleton Very Rare.

The Midleton Very Rare has been produced since 1984. Fewer than 100 specially selected casks are bottled. Even at cask strength the whiskey was surprisingly smooth in character, with an earthy nose and taste. There are hints of almonds and honey while the finish is long and smooth. Overall it is exceptionally drinkable.

The Midleton 26 Year Old is a pure pot still whisky with a Port pipe finish. Only 1000 bottles of this vintage whisky are available. This Irish whiskey is both rich, full-bodied and extremely complex. Its final maturation in a Port pipe gives it a darker redder colouring than the Very Rare as well as hints of Port wine on the nose and palate. It has hints of sweetness and spice and the finish is long and slightly woody.

Midleton was also presented with the distinction of Distillery of the Year by the US magazine Malt Advocate.