Irish Distillers has extended its experimental Method and Madness Irish whiskey range with the launch of a single pot still finished in Hungarian oak and a 28-year-old ruby Port pipe single cask.
The Jameson maker launched the super-premium range in February last year – designed to “push the boundaries” of Irish whiskey.
Unveiled (24 May) during an event in Dublin, Ireland, Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Virgin Hungarian Oak has been finished in virgin oak from the Carpathian Mountain range in the north east of Hungary.
Described as a “lighter style” of single pot whiskey, the expression is bottled without chill-filtration at 46% abv. The use of Hungarian oak is believed to be a first for the Irish whiskey category.
The “tight” grain has been air-dried for two years at the Kádár Kádár sawmills in Tokaji, giving the final whiskey an “aromatic” and complex flavour profile.
The liquid was first matured in a combination of first-fill and re-fill American oak barrels and then finished in virgin Hungarian oak for 11 months.
It has a “silky smooth richness” on the palate with notes of bittersweet liquorice. The nose has hints of treacle, toffee, toasted coconut and campfire ashes.
Irish Distillers has also added a second new expression to the range: the 28-year-old Ruby Port Pipe Single Cask Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey.
Bottled at 56.1% abv, the expression has been matured initially in American oak barrels for six years before being re-casked into a ruby Port pipe and left to age for a further 22 years.
The cask has been seasoned with a selection of wines and ruby Port, which adds “rich fruit flavours”. The expression is limited to 486 bottles worldwide.
It is described as having notes of ripe stone fruit on the nose, with vanilla and cinnamon on the palate.
Kevin O’Gorman, master of maturation at Midleton Distillery, where the Method and Madness range is created, 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.”
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.”
Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in Virgin Hungarian Oak and Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey 28 Year Old Ruby Port Pipe Single Cask are available in Ireland including travel retail, the UK and France at an RRP of €89 (US$104) and €1,900 (US$2,228), respectively.
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