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Jameson is not only the best selling Irish whiskey brand, it’s one of the most popular whiskeys, full stop. Jameson is owned by Irish Distillers, which is owned by Pernod Ricard, and made at the massive Midleton Distillery just outside of Cork. But even huge companies like to experiment, and the latest whiskey to come out of the small experimental distillery inside Midleton is proof of this.
Method and Madness is the main brand made at the Midleton Micro-Distillery, led by distiller Katherine Condon and apprentice distiller Eva O’Doherty. The first three releases were actually all originally distilled in the main distillery, although production has now moved over to the Micro-Distillery. These include a Single Grain finished in virgin Spanish oak, a Single Malt finished in French Limousin oak and a Single Pot Still finished in chestnut casks. But the new Rye & Malt is the first whiskey release that was actually distilled in the Micro-Distillery, and the details of this one make it stand out from anything else produced at Midleton.
Rye & Malt was made from a combination of those two grains—60 percent rye and 40 percent malted barley. It was tripled distilled, as many Irish whiskeys are, and aged for about six years and two months in first and second fill Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey barrels. It was bottled at 92 proof and is non-chill filtered with natural color. Interestingly (for whiskey nerds, at least), the mashbill actually parallels Midleton’s pot still recipe, which is 60 percent unmalted barley and 40 percent malted barley. We had a chance to sample this release and the results are impressive. The nose opens up with sweet caramel and vanilla, and the palate follows suit with notes of pepper, candied orange, oak, more vanilla and just a hint of lemon.
The brand has said that this whiskey is exclusive to the US market, although it looks like a slightly different version is available to purchase in Europe as well (it’s double distilled, for one thing). Still, American fans of Irish whiskey should act fact, because there are only about 5,000 bottles (SRP $80) available from websites like Reserve Bar. And look out for the new extremely limited-edition 33-Year-Old Mizunara Oak Cask whiskey, a single pot still aged for three decades in bourbon barrels and finished for three years in Japanese mizunara. Just 252 bottles will be released just before St. Patrick’s Day, so keep an eye out for this one.