Friday, September 10, 2021

Future of Micro Distillery Takes off with Notes from the Past. Rye and Malt from Midleton's Method and Madness

Drink to the Future as Micro Distillery Takes off with Notes from the Past.

Rye and Malt from Midleton's Method and Madness

Design for the future

Method and Madness is the name of the micro distillery at Irish Distillers in Midleton. Along with the Hamlet inspired name, I get the feeling there’s a little magic at work here also, especially when I hear recently appointed distiller Eva O’Doherty talk about knowing this amalgamation of pipes and cylinders “like a baby”, on the alert, listening and responding to the sounds of smooth and stress as the various recipes find their way through the darkness of the labyrinth to light or oblivion.

The latest, indeed the first, that made its all the way from start to finish here was launched into the world last Wednesday and “a small but super cool media crew” were gathered to help celebrate. The new baby, the first aged experimental distillate created in the Micro Distillery, is called Rye and Malt. 

It is 60% Rye and 40 % Malt and the distiller Katherine Condon, who originally joined Irish Distillers as part of the company’s Graduate Distiller Programme in 2014, relied for inspiration on the 19th notebooks (dating back to 1857) of John Jameson III, where the inclusion of Rye was recorded in various mash bills. 

Distiller Eva speaking at the launch

Kevin O’Gorman (Master Distiller)
Coffee and cocktails were available for the cool crew on arrival at the distillery. Three cocktails tempted, one French Connection, based on the M&M Single Pot Still, the second Malted Memory based on the Single Malt, and the third, Strawberry Cooler, built on the Single Grain. Hard to choose one but glad that I eventually settled on the Malted Memory with its charred cinnamon stick!

Time then for a detailed tour of the micro distillery with Eva, time for questions and answers.  Six years ago (the building itself goes back to the 1800s), the Micro Distillery opened its doors with a mission to further support the resurgence of Irish whiskey, drawing on research into wood influences and cereal mixes, historic mash bills from the Irish Distillers Archive and the restless curiosity of its craftspeople. Here they go outside the boundaries of tradition without casting that tradition aside. And from that quest to move on through a wide open door, Rye and Malt was created.

Eva and Kevin O’Gorman (Master Distiller) would take us through the various stages of trial and error. We began by nosing two new makes - the only difference in input being the yeast and that accounted for a clear variation.   We took a more in depth look at glass #3. Here Japanese chestnut had been used to compare with European and the country of origin gave the variation here. “We could see something coming from this in a few years,” said Kevin. Trial and error in action. And promise also in the cereal creaminess of #4 (60% oats).

The three stills of the Micro Distillery

The new whiskey was in glass #5 and is a superbly balanced drink. Clove and spice from the Rye on the nose. Must say I didn't get the Lemon Balm that was mentioned and I should know it as the self-seeding herb is all over the garden! The Malt led on the toasty palate, a peppery spice also. And spice still there through to the finish where the perfect balance was once again tellingly and delightfully illustrated. A terrific result in a very attractively presented green, gold and yellow bottle - put this gem on your shortlist! "Thanks for coming," concluded Eva. Thanks for having us.

Rye and Malt represents “the young team’s fearless and relentless approach to trial and error”. First experimenting in the lab to discover the ideal ratio of 60% rye to 40% malt, Condon and the team then took advantage of the Micro Distillery’s manual processes, trialing varying rates of reflux and distillation to achieve the perfect crisp yet spicy flavour.  

“Driven by a desire to create whiskey that paid heed to tradition while searching for the new and extraordinary, the Micro Distillery team double-distilled a mash of rye and malted barley and left it to mature in ex-bourbon American oak barrels.”  

Tasting tables

Distiller Katherine Condon (absent on her honeymoon) missed the launch. Her message: “We have been inspired by the innovators in Irish whiskey who came before us. In turn, we have questioned tradition and challenged convention to follow their inspiration and drive the Irish whiskey category forward for a new generation of creators, consumers, and indeed, suppliers”. 

Eva O'Doherty, newly appointed Distiller at the Micro Distillery, added: “While this whiskey has been maturing, we have not rested on our laurels. We have continued in earnest to experiment with new mash bills.  It is a great privilege and responsibility to help shape the future of Irish whiskey, and Method and Madness Rye and Malt represents the first in an incredible pipeline of innovation from this distillery.”  And having tasted #3 and #4, I'd have to be encouraged on that front as well.

If these old walls could speak..

And we finished as we started, with a cocktail. And of course this was based on the new whiskey. Chinese tea, a lemon distillate (didn’t get the exact name) and orange peel had been added, and the blend was marvellous, just the tonic before we stepped out into the rain.

Geek Bits

(from the dsitillery)

Bottled at 46% ABV, the limited-edition Method and Madness Rye and Malt Irish Whiskey will be available from September 20th in Ireland, the UK, Dublin Airport and online at the RRP of €95. 

Double distilled in ex Bourbon casks.

Non chilled filtered.

RRP: €95.

Tasting Notes: 

Nose: Lemon Balm, Floral Lavender, Clove Spice

Taste: White Pepper, Chilli Flakes, Toasted Wood

Finish: Fading Fruits, Lingering Spice, Cereal Malt & Barley

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