Two new exciting single pot still Irish whiskeys have been added to the METHOD AND MADNESS range, known for its creativity and innovation by harnessing the new talented apprentices in its Midleton Distillery, writes Dee Laffan.
Taking inspiration from the famous Shakespearean quote, ‘Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t’, the METHOD AND MADNESS range of whiskeys were launched in February 2017 by Irish Distillers, makers of some of the world’s best-known and successful Irish whiskeys, to push the boundaries of Irish whiskey. They have certainly pushed the boundaries with their latest two whiskeys in the range, and one of them is a world-first!
The two new and experimental limited edition Irish whiskeys are a Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Wild Cherry Wood and Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Acacia Wood. The whiskeys represent the latest results of the research that Midleton Distillery and Micro Distillery, in County Cork, have undertaken into maturation in different wood types over more than 10 years.
In a world-first, the Midleton masters and apprentices present a single pot still Irish whiskey that has been finished in nine casks crafted from wild cherry wood, sourced from France, for between seven months and four years. Wood from the cherry tree is characterised by its porosity, which results in significant interaction between the wood and the whiskey and has added complex flavours of shredded ginger, coconut and black tea to the ex-bourbon and sherry cask-matured whiskey.
Why has this never been done before? I hear you ask! At the launch of these two fantastically-fine and eye-opening whiskeys in The Celtic Whiskey Shop on Dawson Street recently, we were told the main reason is very simple because cherry wood barrels tend to leak and therefore prove to be quite challenging to use and I honestly cannot think of anything worse to happen than to have your whiskey leak out of a barrel onto the floor! What a fine waste that would be.
Kevin O’Gorman, Master of Maturation at Midleton Distillery, commented: “Since 2014, our research into maturation in different wood types has challenged our expertise and approach to whiskey-making – but none so much as our experimentations with wild cherry casks. The rare, porous wood is different to anything that we have handled before, so it has been a real achievement to create the perfect balance of flavour – the result is a world-first in Irish whiskey, with a nose of coconut fibre and ginger, a palate of fresh green herbs, black tea and unmistakable pot still spices and a long, fresh finish with prickly spice and hazelnut.”
Bottled at 46% ABV, METHOD AND MADNESS Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Wild Cherry Wood is available in six markets, including Ireland, the UK and global travel retail, from September 2019 at the RRP of €92.
My Verdict: This whiskey is a game-changer for the market. I haven't experienced anything quite like it before. With a beautiful floral fragrance and almost one of freshly cut grass, mixed with sticky wild cherries on the nose. The taste is delightfully fresh too and while it has all of the characteristics one loves about whiskey, the cherry wood livens the palate and makes it feel young and trendy... a new-old-fashioned! For something different, definitely check this one out.
A mature discovery
The second new release is a single pot still Irish whiskey that has been finished in barrels crafted from acacia wood, sourced from France, for between one and four years. Initially matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and sherry casks, the dense acacia wood has a tight grain that slowly imparts rich nutty and chocolatey flavours and a dark mahogany hue.
The colour difference between the two new whiskeys is quite remarkable. The acacia wood gives a darker mahogany colour that adds to the mystery of the whiskey.
Finbarr Curran, member of the Maturation Research Team at Midleton Distillery, added: ‘METHOD AND MADNESS aims to push the boundaries of Irish whiskey and the Irish spirits category through innovative releases and it has been a real honour to work closely with Kevin in order to craft these two new whiskeys. The density of the acacia wood presented a challenge in contrast to the wild cherry wood as the maturation process was much slower and required a close eye and nose to achieve the perfect balance. But it was well worth the wait. This stunning single pot still Irish whiskey has a nose of sugared almonds and wood spice, a palate of coffee beans, dark chocolate and chilli and a finish with fading spice, charred wood and barley husk.”
METHOD AND MADNESS Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Acacia Wood is bottled at 46% ABV and is available exclusively through the Celtic Whiskey Shop in Ireland from September 2019 at the RRP of €92.
My verdict: This is definitely my kind of whiskey, handsome and mysterious (there's a joke in there somewhere!), its colour is strong and ageless, its nose is spicey and the taste is beautifully rich like dark chocolate with a velvety smooth finish and a nice kick of spice or chilli in the depths of the layers of flavours. This one is for whiskey fans.