Inside the Method and Madness of Midleton Distillery

Inside the Method and Madness of Midleton Distillery

The world of Whisky – or whiskey as they say in Ireland – is a very exciting place currently with many leading brands and age old distilleries looking to transform the very meaning of the word into something that’s more reflective of the current climate. It seems no distillery is safe from this need to invent, as I found in my exploration of Irish whiskey in Midlelton, Co. Cork, Ireland.


Photo © Eli Ankutse


The beauty of this new mindset in an age-old sector is that the inertia to change is so great, that for any change to truly be pushed through to the fore, it has to be reflective of the brand heritage on the whole. While this previously could be seen as a hindrance to progress, the recent loosening of these reins has led to some extraordinary whiskies of late and I was about to encounter some more.


Photo © Eli Ankutse


Taking inspiration from the famous Shakespearean quote, ‘Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t’, this new line of whiskies is called Method and Madness and aims to harness the creativity of Midleton’s whiskey masters through the fresh talent of its apprentices.

METHOD AND MADNESS is designed to reflect a next generation Irish spirit brand with a measure of curiosity and intrigue (MADNESS), while honouring the tradition and expertise grounded in the generations of expertise at the Midleton Distillery (METHOD).


Photo © Eli Ankutse


The range consists of four whiskies, all as disparate in concept as they are in their creation. From Single Pot Still to Single Malt Whiskey the variety captured in such a small range of whiskies is one to be experienced rather than explained, so that’s exactly what I did.

The required sampling took place at numerous intervals to help firmly clarify the distinction between each complex derivation – the pride and joy being the Method and Madness 31 Year Single Grain Whiskey, which merits a standalone mention for the intricacy of flavour and character captured in the bottle. Even at €1500, I suspect the bottles won’t be on sale for long.


Photo © Eli Ankutse


The rest of the range is much more inline with current premium whiskies ranging from €49-€79 per bottle. In terms of design, the bottles reflect that you would more expect to see within the Gin segment; bright and elegant, subtly enhanced with historic references captured all over the label design. Rather than have you endure my ‘top-level’ examination of the flavours, to truly do the range justice Midleton Master Blender, Billy Leighton explains his tasting notes for the range below.


Single Grain Irish Whiskey Finished in Virgin Spanish Oak

Tasting notes by Master Blender, Billy Leighton:
Nose: New pencil shavings, light rose petal and fresh rain on pine
Taste: Warm toasted oak, fresh peeled grapefruit and zesty wood spices
Finish: Sweet cereal, clove spiciness and fresh mint

Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Finished in French Chestnut

Tasting notes by Master Blender, Billy Leighton:
Nose: Red Liquorice laces, Fresh Rosemary mint and grated root ginger
Taste: Sweet fruit and spice, cinnamon toast and ripe banana
Finish: Aromatic green tea, dissipating fruit and spice and rich wood farewell

Single Malt Irish Whiskey Enhanced with French Limousin Oak

Tasting notes by Master Blender, Billy Leighton:
Nose: Freshly shelled peanut and cereal malt aroma
Taste: Cracked cinnamon stick and ice cream cone wafer
Finish: Fragrant bon bons and a hint of tasted barley

Single Grain Irish Whiskey 31 Year Old

Tasting notes by Master Blender, Billy Leighton:
Nose: Crisp floral, black liquorice and succulent fruit
Taste: Creamy honey, wood spice and honeydew melon
Finish: Endless dark wood, lingering fruit and gentle spices


After a thorough examination of the development process, and having talked through the range with the experts – and apprentices – there was little choice but for me to come to one clear conclusion; this range is certainly is more Method than Madness.

The Method and Madness Single Grain, Single Pot Still and Single Malt Irish Whiskeys will be available in the UK, France and Ireland from this month at the respective RRPs of €49, €69 and €79. The METHOD AND MADNESS 31 Year Old, Single Cask, Single Grain will be available in the same territories from April 2017, priced at €1,500.


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