Seeing as St Patricks day is right around the corner, we're going to take a look at the Method & Madness range of Irish Whiskeys from the Midleton Distillery, and find out what makes them so special.
We'll start by looking at the whiskey-making process, and discovering the different types of whiskey that are produced.
We'll then take a closer look at the Method and Madness range, and find out what makes them unique.
So let's get started!
The traditional method for making whiskey is through distillation, which converts the fermented grain mash into a distillate. Distillation takes place in either a pot still, column still, or hybrid still.
Each type of still has its own advantages and disadvantages, which must be taken into account when selecting a method. A pot still is the simplest and earliest type of still and is typically used in small batches. It works by boiling water and collecting the distilled spirits.
By the early 1800s, a column still was the most common way to distill whiskey. The column still is a type of still that uses a series of vertical pipes to heat the liquid mixture and cause the alcohol to vaporise. This vaporised alcohol then collects in a column, where it can be distilled again. A column still can run continuously, making higher-volume production possible, and creates a lighter spirit.
In the early 19th century, the Irish whiskey industry was in its infancy. There were only a handful of distilleries, and each was producing a unique style of whiskey. One of the most popular types of whiskey was called Irish Whiskey, and it was made using a hybrid still process. This was a combination of copper and pot stills, and is still used to make Irish Whiskey today.
The popularity of Irish Whiskey led to the development of other types of whiskey, such as bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey, both traditions that evolved from practices of Scots-Irish immigrants to the United states. Today, there are dozens of different types of whiskey available, and each is produced using a particular method, often as dictated by local law.
The first step in making Irish whiskey is to malt the barley. This is done by soaking the barley in water until it begins to germinate, then drying it in a kiln.
The second step in making Irish whiskey is to create a mash, or grain mixture. The mash is then heated to a temperature that will break down the starches and convert them into sugar. The sugar is then distilled off, leaving the alcohol.
The third step in making Irish whiskey is distillation. This process heats the whiskey to a high temperature, which vaporises the alcohol and separates it from the other components of the drink. This leaves us with a clear, strong spirit that is aged on its own or mixed with other flavours. Irish whiskey is traditionally triple-distilled, giving a lighter and brighter character than most other whiskies.
Method and Madness are an extremely innovative Irish distillery that are creating many whiskeys that are the first of their kind for Irish Distillers.
Their ethos is to produce an innovative range of small batch whiskies by masters and apprentices, with a measure of curiosity and intrigue (The Madness), while honouring the tradition and expertise grounded in the experience at the Midleton Distillery (The Method). This results is a unique range of Irish Whiskey that showcase the breadth and depth of modern Irish Whiskey.
Now let's have a look at a few favourites in the range.
First we have the Method & Madness Single Malt Irish Whiskey. Single Malt Irish Whiskey is a type of whiskey that is made from a single distillery. The term "single malt" refers to the fact that only malted barley, and only from one distillery, is used to make the whiskey, which gives it a more intense flavour.
This range was laid down in 2002 in bourbon barrels before being finished in french oak casks. The most conservative of the range, this single malt whiskey is a nice and easy, smooth Irish whiskey.
The Method & Madness Single Grain Irish Whiskey is an intriguing example of ingenuity. Single Grain Irish Whiskey is a type of whiskey using grain from only one distillery. This makes for a more intense and flavourful whiskey.
This single grain whiskey is aged initially in first fill Bourbon barrels before finishing in virgin Spanish oak. This creates a combination that provides a taste of gentle wood spice playing off the natural sweetness of the grain.
Lastly we have the Method & Madness Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. Single pot still whiskey is made by a single distillery from a mixed mash of malted and unmalted barley distilled in a pot still. Somewhat similar to single malt whiskey, the style was defined by its inclusion of unmalted raw barley in the mash in addition to malt.
This Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey is initially matured in a mixture of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks and then finished in French chestnut barrels giving a whiskey full of flavour that's a twist on the traditional Irish whiskey. The most out there of the range, this is certainly an Irish Whiskey you would place in the new world category of Irish drams.
Method & Madness have definitely placed themselves at the forefront of innovative Irish Whiskies, stretching the traditions and bending the boundaries to produce some inherently unique drops. Whilst it's hard to pick a favourite there is definitely a space for each and everyone of them on my bar at home.
Like the sound of Method & Madness but not much of a whiskey drinker?