February 2017 heralded the release of Method and Madness from Irish Distillers LTD. A huge leap forward for Irish whiskey and a big jump for Midleton Distillery which had always stuck to good old reliable whiskeys and ensured that they did them well. Method and Madness exploded onto the market with four releases, some of which breaking the usual “rules”. A 31yr old Single Grain Single cask, a Single Malt enhanced with French Limousin Oak Casks, a Single Grain finished in Virgin Spanish Oak Casks and the much loved Single Pot Still finished in French Chestnut. They were a big hit with whiskey lovers and it’s success was a testament to how much we want to see innovation in the industry. Obviously different cask finishes have been used by other distilleries but Method and Madness pushed that boat out further and went for casks never tried before. Combining curiosity and intrigue with tradition and expertise, Method and Madness was a winning combination. The Single Pot Still in particular, was simply stunning. In fact one of the highlights of Whiskey Live 2017 for me was a 4yr old SPS matured in French Chestnut that Ger Garland kindly gave me. The wood really can do wonders when combined with great quality distillate.
Fast forward to today and I’m sitting in Dublin about to head off to attend the launch of two new releases of Method and Madness and I’m obviously excited, as its my first launch to be attending as a “blogger”! Tonight IDL are launching 2 bottlings. A Single Pot Still finished in Hungarian Oak and a 28 year old Single Pot Still Ruby Port Pipe Single cask. More Madness from Midleton which I’m sure will have Method to it!! (I know, I know……that was a terrible pun but it was expected, wasn’t it?!) I’ll update when I can with my tasting notes but until then, here are some words from the Method and Madness team!!
In a world first for Irish whiskey, METHOD AND MADNESS Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Virgin Hungarian Oak has been finished in virgin oak felled in the Carpathian Mountain range in the North East of Hungary, where volcanic soils are best suited to the growing of Quercus Petraea. Harvested in winter and air-dried for two years at the Kádár sawmills in Tokaj, the tight grain of this exceptional wood slowly imparts complex compounds and subtle flavours into the whiskey during the finishing process. The whiskey, a single pot still distillate, was first matured in a combination of first-fill and re-fill American oak barrels, before finishing in the virgin Hungarian oak for 11 months.
Kevin O’Gorman, Master of Maturation at Midleton Distillery, commented: “Our quest for uncommon casks has led us all over the world. We were especially intrigued by the Quercus Petraea from North East Hungary and the unique properties that it could add to our flavour repertoire as whiskey makers. At Midleton Distillery over the past few years, we have been experimenting with Hungarian virgin oak casks – a trial and error process that we are incredibly proud to have finally mastered. The result is a new first for Irish whiskey that continues to challenge perceptions of what the category can be.”
The second aged release in the METHOD AND MADNESS series is a 28 year old Ruby Port Pipe, which is a single pot still Irish whiskey matured initially for six years in American oak barrels, before being re-casked into a Ruby Port pipe for a further 22 years. The cask was carefully seasoned with a selection of wines to remove some of the heavy tannins and further seasoned with Ruby Port, infusing rich fruit flavours. The whiskey is alive with notes of ripe stone fruit on the nose and generous with vanilla and cinnamon on the palate, while the light pot still spices shine through on the long, satisfying finish.
Dave McCabe, Apprentice Blender at Midleton Distillery, added: “METHOD AND MADNESS 28 Year Old Ruby Port Pipe marks the realisation of a 22-year-old prediction from the Midleton Masters, which stated that the marriage of flavours between a single pot still Irish whiskey and a Port pipe will one day achieve balance. Billy Leighton, our Master Blender, and I have been carefully monitoring the slowly evolving flavours of this rare and exceptional cask as part of my training as Apprentice Blender. It gives us great pleasure to be able to present it as the perfect harmony between whiskey, Port and wood.”
METHOD AND MADNESS Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Virgin Hungarian Oak is bottled without chill-filtration at 46% ABV and is available in Ireland, the UK, Travel Retail Ireland and France, RRP €89. METHOD AND MADNESS Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey 28 Year Old Ruby Port Pipe Single Cask is bottled at 56.1% ABV and available in Ireland, UK, Travel Retail Ireland and France, priced at RRP €1,900.
Official tasting notes as follows;
METHOD AND MADNESS Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Virgin Hungarian Oak
Tasting notes by Master Blender, Billy Leighton:
Nose: Treacle, toffee, toasted coconut and campfire ashes
Taste: Silky smooth richness, bittersweet liquorice and dry woodland notes
Finish: Dissipating spice and toasted Oak
METHOD AND MADNESS Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey 28 Year Old Ruby Port Pipe
Tasting notes by Master Blender, Billy Leighton:
Nose: Fleshy mango, kiwi & green banana and ripe plums
Taste: Vanilla & cinnamon, port wine and barley grains
Finish: Lingering succulent fruits, toasted oak and light spice