So as you may have read here, I attended the launch of two new releases from Method And Madness last night. Held at the Drury Buildings in the city centre, a street that once actually housed the Powers bottling hall, it was a very intimate and personal affair. At one point I think Midleton masters, IDL staff, PR gurus and venue staff out numbered those of us in attendance!
The opening address was delivered by Kevin O’Gorman, Midleton’s Master of Maturation who said that Method And Madness was about asking questions and pushing boundaries while using the micro distillery at Midleton as a playground to try new things. A fantastic overview of the first release, Single Pot Still (SPS) finished in Hungarian Oak was delivered right down to the fine details of the tight grain that it contains and how that interacts slowly with the spirit. The end result of this bottling is a 6 to 8 year old SPS that is finished in Hungarian Oak for 11 months and bottled at the magic 46% ABV. RRP is €89.
Nose – Loads of Toffee here for me. Vanilla, ripe banana and out of nowhere, coconut!
Palate – Smooth and sweet with a lovely Oak taste.
Finish – Slight bitterness creeps in but is replaced by the pot still spicy tingle that lingers nicely with a toffee and caramel note towards the end.
The second and third tasting were a surprise for us all. Delivered by Dave McCabe, Midleton’s Apprentice Blender and Distiller Katherine Condon, we delved into what Madness is to come from Midleton. From the earlier press release we expected two whiskeys and technically, that’s what we got. But…..we did get to taste some unusual distillate that had been matured for just under two years. Under Irish law, for a spirit to be called whiskey, it must be aged in wood on the Island of Ireland for a minimum of three years. While these will become whiskey next year, don’t expect them to be released that quick. They have a few more years to go yet. So what were they? Drum roll please……a mash bill of Oats and Malted Barley and one of Rye and Malted Barley, both in a respective 60:40 ratio (40% malted barley in each case). This was a big surprise. A return towards older mash bills and for me, it was the highlight of the night to be told that this type of experimentation was happening in Midleton.
The Oats had been used before in mash bills (method), but with a splash of madness we were told that it was never done to such a high percentage. It delivered a delicate nose with a lovely marshmellow taste coupled with what i can only describe as a Caburys Caramello bar. It was presented at 63.5% ABV. so a good drop of water was needed. The Rye was presented at 62.7% and had a lovely oily mouth coating and much more spice than the oats. A real treat when we consider that most of the Method and Madness range are affordable bottles of whiskey under €100. If it continues like that, we’ll have both of the above bottled for the masses at an affordable price and will be a real treat, I promise you.
The fourth and last whiskey of the night was the wonderfully presented 28yr old Single Pot Still Single Cask. Laid down on the 16th of October 1989, it was matured for 6 years in Bourbon casks and a whopping 22 years in a Ruby Port Pipe. Bottled at 56.1%, there are only 486 bottles available and RRP is a big €1900. The colour on this bottle was tremendously dark. Nearly a shame to drink it. Nearly…..
Nose – Lovely tropical fruits and some blackcurrant after a minute or two of nosing. Not very spirit heavy as you’d expect from 56.1%
Palate – Drying at the beginning but that quickly subsides to beautiful fruity notes throughout. More blackcurrant here, reminding me slightly of the recent Dream Cask, but this is a different beast. Massive Port influence as expected.
Finish – Lingers nicely with light spice. No water needed here. In fact, in my second measure I added water and it just plain killed it. So if you pick up a bottle…..drink it neat please!