Irish Distillers, the biggest name in Irish whiskey, is introducing a brand-new range of super premium whiskeys, called ‘Method and Madness.” The experimental new whiskeys are being produced to change how we see the beverage, and to see what can be produced using unique combinations of casks.
Method and Madness is launching as a series of whiskeys that, according to Irish Distillers, shows their ‘continued commitment to experimentation and innovation’ at their Irish whiskey distillery in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland.
The new range of beverages take their name from that lesser known Shakespeare quote ‘Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t’. The range includes four different Irish whiskeys with unique twists.
1. Single Grain Irish Whiskey, Finished in Virgin Spanish Oak Casks.
This edition of Irish whiskey is left to mature in former bourbon barrels, which helps achieve a light flavor. Then, the whiskey is finished in virgin Spanish oak casks for 12 months. The casks were sourced from Galicia, in the North West of Spain.
These virgin oak casks create a more complex flavor with spicier notes, contrasting with the perfumed flavor achieved with the former bourbon barrels. This complexity and contrast is what makes the whiskey so interesting – and according to master blender Billy Leighton, it tastes of toasted oak, grapefruit and zesty wood spices. There is a sweet cereal and fresh mint finish.
2. 31-Year-Old Single Cask, Single Grain Limited Edition, Cask-Strength Bottle
The 31-year-old single cask, single grain, and Limited Edition whiskey is the star of the show. This is a single grain distillate that has been matured in a bourbon cask for 31 years, giving it an extremely deep flavor. Three options are available – all are bottled without any chill filtration, and they are 52.5%, 51.8% and 51.3% ABV.
Leighton says that the nose offers a floral, licorice scent, and the taste presents honey, melon, and wood spice flavors. The 31 years spent maturing in former bourbon casks creates a lingering fruity finish.
3. Single Malt Irish Whiskey, Featuring French Limousin Oak
This is the first Single Malt Irish Whiskey that has been released from the distillery in recent years, and it’s certainly special. Initially matured in former bourbon barrels, the whiskey has malt and biscuit flavors at its core. After being part-finished with the French Limousin oak casks for an extra year, floral notes complement those original flavors. Bottled with no chill filtration, this is a 46% ABV whiskey.
Leighton says the nose has a peanut and malt aroma, and the whiskey has a taste of cinnamon.
4. A Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, Featuring French Chestnut
This single pot Irish whiskey was matured in both former bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks. The whiskey was later transferred to French chestnut barrels, sourced from the Isere region of the country. This is the first time ever that this combination has been tried, creating a unique sweetness and a depth of taste.
Bottled without chill filtration, this is a 46% ABV whiskey, with a nose of red licorice, rosemary mint, and root ginger. It offers a taste of sweet fruit and cinnamon, and a green tea finish.
Brian Nation is one of the head distillers at Irish Distillers. In an official press release, Nation explained the idea behind the Method and Madness series:
“At the Midleton Distillery, we are committed to innovation and experimenting with new whiskey styles. We are also invested in training and nurturing the next generation of Irish whiskey makers and this project really brings that commitment to life. The passing on of knowledge and skills is part of our DNA from our long line of master distillers, to the generations of coopers that served their apprenticeships at the Midleton Distillery. In fact, this summer our apprentice cooper, Killian O’Mahony will become our first qualified cooper in over 40 years’’.
Brian Buckley, the Director of Global Innovation and Prestige Whiskeys over at Irish Distillers, also added:
“At Irish Distillers, we are constantly searching for new ways to bring Irish whiskey to a wider audience. Jameson has been the iconic brand which has led the way, supported by niche connoisseur brands such as Redbreast, The Spot Range and Midleton Very Rare so with METHOD AND MADNESS, we are able to not only create an outlet for our whiskey makers to really experiment but also to create a uniquely original brand which will pique the interest of spirits drinkers throughout the world”.
Price and Availability
All of these unique whiskeys will be available from April 2017, but each will be priced differently. The 31-year-old rare single cask edition will be priced at €1,500. The single malt Irish Whiskey finished in Limousin Oak is more accessible, with a recommended retail price of €79, and the Single Pot release will be just €69. The Single Grain will be €49.
Ireland’s Biggest Spirit Supplier
Irish Distillers is the leading supplier of spirits and wines in Ireland, and produces some of the most popular Irish whiskeys. The company is a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, a French drinks firm, and is responsible for Jameson – one of the most popular commercial whiskeys on the market.
The distillers group was formed back in 1966, when John Jameson & Son, John Power & Son, and Cork Distilleries Company merged in an attempt to increase the sale of Irish whiskey. Their original Cork and Dublin distilleries were closed, and from then on, all whiskey produced by the company was to be made in the now-famous Midleton, County Cork distillery.
The Midleton distillery now operates only as a visitor center, with production having moved to a larger facility. To this day, the large Midleton facility produces popular whiskeys like Jameson, Powers, Redbreast, Midleton and Green Spot. Huzzar Vodka and Cork Dry Gin are also produced at the distillery.
Method and Madness is just the latest in a long line of interesting and experimental beverages produced by the distillery, and in just a month’s time, we’ll know really how experimental they are!