Irish Distillers, makers of the world’s most well-known and successful Irish whiskeys, has added two new and experimental, limited edition Irish whiskeys to its METHOD AND MADNESS range; Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Virgin Hungarian Oak and a 28-year-old Ruby Port Pipe Single Cask Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. First launched in 2017, METHOD AND MADNESS aims to push the boundaries of Irish whiskey through innovative releases, harnessing the creativity and fresh thinking of the masters and apprentices in Midleton Distillery.
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 theKádár 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.