Method and Madness Pot Still Chestnut 46%

The last in our Method and Madness evening was a revisit of their Pot Still Chestnut Finish. We first tried it a few months ago so when we decided on the tasting order, thought to close with this one.

Method and Madness Pot Still Chestnut Finish 46%

  • Colour – Dark gold
  • Nose – When first poured had that damp cloth aroma, then shifted into sweet pink bubble gum, very sweet candy, jammy, a bit dusty with a dash of cinnamon
  • Palate – Fruity, more of that sweet berry jam, a bit oily
  • Finish – Finally a finish!

Overall we were surprised with how enjoyable we found it as hadn’t been terribly impressed in our initial experience. We were happy to be pleasantly surprised – particularly as it was a good one to sip while puffing on a cigar.

What did the folks over at Midleton have to say?

Single Pot Still whiskey aged in chestnut casks, a combination of what we’ve always done in Midleton and what we’ve never tried before. It’s not often we stray from the traditional oak, but one sip suggests it was well worth the deviation.

  • Nose – Red liquorice laces, fresh rosemary and mint, grated root ginger
  • Taste – Sweet fruit and spice, cinnamon toast, ripe banana
  • Finish – Aromatic green tea, dissipating fruit and spice, rich wood farewell

This bottle was purchased in London at the Whisky Exchange, currently available for £62.75 and opened in November 2019.

What else did we try in our Method and Madness evening?

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Method and Madness Pot Still Hungarian Oak 46%

Midleton Distillery in Ireland has an experimental line called Method and Madness. They play around with a base of grain, single malt or pot still whiskey, typically matured in ex-bourbon barrels then finished in another barrel. In this case it was a pot still whisky finished in oak from Hungary.

What did we discover?

Method and Madness Pot Still Hungarian Oak Finish 46%

  • Colour – Yellow straw
  • Nose – First whiff and it came across as quite distinctive – varnish but not your typical old wood polish or young sharp varnish – instead something else. Honeycomb, wood shavings, vegetal oils… shifting into ripe banana mash then fried banana chips. After the 1st sip
  • Palate – A nice spice, sweet liquorice, sweet and smooth
  • Finish – Practically absent, just warm
  • Water – Suddenly what made this whiskey interesting was just gone! The aromas simply faded into nearly nothing. On the palate it softened the flavour but… so what?

No question this came across as being on the young side but the aromas were interesting, had the best mouthfeel of the Method and Madness series so far however the finish was warm but not much more. Overall we decided this was a pleasant but innocuous whiskey.

We set it aside to revisit and guess what? It regained a bit of its character and did rather well paired with a cigar. Just goes to show how it important it is to try different things to see what works best for a particular dram.

What did the folks over at Midleton have to say?

The quest for uncommon casks led us to the Carpathian Mountains of Hungary and the rich volcanic soils that give rise to Quercus Petraea, Virgin Hungarian Oak and Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey – a curious combination, with a very special outcome.

This Limited Edition release is a ‘World- First’ for Irish Whiskey; a Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey aged in Bourbon Barrels and finished in Virgin Hungarian Oak.

  • Nose – Treacle toffee, toasted coconut, campfire ashes
  • Taste – Silky smooth richness, bittersweet liquorice, dry woodland notes
  • Finish – Dissipating spice, toasted oak, mountain mist

This bottle was purchased in London at the Whisky Exchange, currently available for £80.95 and opened in November 2019.

What else did we try in our Method and Madness evening?

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Method and Madness Single Malt 46%

Our Irish Method and Madness quartet explored the core trio plus on limited edition. We began with the Single Grain and moved on to this Single Malt.

What did we think?

Method and Madness Single Malt French Limousin Oak Finish 46%

  • Colour – Bright light gold
  • Nose – Honey mash, oats, vanilla, young varnish. After the 1st sip, unripened bananas, raw sawdust, oatmeal porridge with honey
  • Palate – Started a bit bitter with peach pits, linseed oil
  • Finish – The odd bitter oil continued in the finish

The aromas were quite straight forward with little variation – nothing wrong with it but overall unremarkable. Our impression was of a young uncomplex dram. While not particularly ‘friendly’, there was no harshness found in some immature malts.

We set it aside and continued tasting the other Method and Madness whiskies. When we revisited, it had settled in quite nicely and revealed a nice honey quality, a bit of spice, holding its own. Not bad after all then!

What did the folks over at Midleton have to say?

Single Malt whiskey laid down in Midleton in 2002 finished in a French Limousin Oak. A first for us, resulting in light perfume notes giving way to dry barley and ice cream cone wafer.

  • Nose – Freshly shelled peanut, cereal malt aroma
  • Taste – Cracked cinnamon stick, ice cream cone wafer
  • Finish – Fragrant bon bons, a hint of toasted barley 

Would I agree with their tasting notes? Definitely about the cereal but not so much the balance.

We opened this in November 2019 from a bottle purchased in London at the Whisky Exchange. You can still find it for approx £70.

What else did we explore in our Method and Madness evening?

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Method and Madness Single Grain 46%

First up in our Irish Method and Madness quartet was a single grain, matured in ex-bourbon barrels then finished in virgin Spanish oak.

What did we think?

Method and Madness Single Grain Virigin Spanish Oak Finish 46%

  • Colour – Straw
  • Nose – We immediately thought of veggie bhajia, a deep fried desi savoury snack made with besan (chickpea flour)! Behind the vegetable oil, we found some honey, a hint of floral fragrance, with a herbal bitterness. After the 1st sip, the vegetal quality gave way to a nutty vanilla toffee aroma.. shifting into balsa wood or fresh pine
  • Palate – First impression was banana with sharp spice, then it calmed down revealing a bitter ajwain element. A few sips in and the wood increasingly came to the forefront with a bit of vanilla pudding or honey depending on the sip
  • Finish – Soft feeling, coats with warmth but nothing very specifically discernible, more like a shadow of the woody palate than anything distinctive, yet the impression remained
  • Water – Some added water and one thought it completely transformed the grain. Certainly it smoothed and rounded it out more, the spice remained but was tempered and not so honeyed

Overall we found there was more character than expected in a grain. The wood certainly came through and could very well be the influence of the time spent in virgin Spanish oak casks.

And the revisit? Nope! Not to our taste. Let’s just say there was a funky sour quality that was thankfully completely missing in our original tasting.

What did the folks over at Midleton have to say?

This release asked the question: What if we take a step away from the familiar with a Single Grain whiskey aged in Virgin Spanish Oak. Without giving too much away, the two made very good partners, with a taste of gentle wood spice playing off the natural sweetness of the grain.

  • Nose – New pencil shavings, light rose petal, fresh rain on pine
  • Taste – Warm toasted oak, fresh peeled grapefruit, zesty wood spices
  • Finish – Sweet cereal, clove spiciness, fresh mint

Would we agree? We certainly found the woodsy quality, floral hint and spice, however we certainly didn’t find the grapefruit on the palate though perhaps our interpretation was bitter with out the citrus element. Overall we were glad to have a chance to try but this wouldn’t be one we would run out and buy again.

This bottle was purchased in London at the Whisky Exchange, currently available for £43.75 and opened in November 2019.

What else did we try in our Method and Madness evening?

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Dubai Dreams – Midleton Very Rare 2011 40%

So what does an Irish whisky have to do with Dubai? It just so happens this particular bottle was enjoyed in Dubai with an Irishman who truly appreciates his Irish whiskies.

And he wasn’t the only one… our gathering of gents had many who enjoy their whiskies… however truth be told, slowing down, sniffing and discussing the aromas before the first sip was a departure from their usual approach.

However they were kind enough to indulge my light admonishment to be a bit patient.

When I shared this was the luxury brand of Irish single malts, this caught their attention.

And it truly is. Not only is Midleton the Jameson groups premier brand, this particular bottle is a rare collectable one… these day if you are very lucky, you may find it online for around €500.

Midleton “Very Rare” is an annual limited release started in 1984 to celebrate the best of Midleton (read Jameson) distillery. Each year these bottles tend to fly off the shelf and for Midleton fans, half the fun is comparing the different expressions – particularly the “old” which had their retired master distiller Barry Crocket’s involvement vs the “new” (2014 onwards) which purely reflect their master distiller Brian Nation’s hand in the blend.

What did we find?

Midleton Very Rare 2011 No 042585 / L121731255 40%

  • Nose – A pronounced butterscotch, caramel and toffee character, sweet grass, dripping with honey, after time some vanilla cream
  • Palate – Smooth, one could even say buttery, light fruits, honey, some black pepper spice, a nice oily feel though it was also quite light and “clean” on the palate
  • Finish – Quite gentle, there but with a light touch and continued with the linear “clean” dimension
  • Water – No temptation to add… It was perfect “as is”

The quality and character of this particular blend lends an easy comparison with a Highland malt. We described it as quite “spring like” with a fresh appealing and accessible approach.

Our somewhat biased Irish sampler declared this “Simply the best!” However there clearly was concurrence. We discussed how there were no harsh notes… and would put this in the category of a lovely easy drinking dram.

We spoke of what makes Irish whisky distinctive – tends to be triple distilled, not malted, limited use of peat and judicious use of ex-sherry casks.

As the last drop was drained… there were satisfied murmurs of appreciation… what a wonderful way to kick off our evening!

Our most generous host shared a remarkable collection of drams:

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Midleton Barry Crocket Legacy 16 year 46%

In the world of Irish whiskies there may be brands a-plenty yet there are relatively few full functioning distilleries that have been around for decades. This is because back in the 1970s the Irish Distillers company decided to close most of their distilleries and create the Jameson Midleton Distillery with its ability to produce a range of styles using its 4 pot stills, 7 column stills for grain, malt and as combined together blends. It was opened in 1975 and since then brings to the world JamesonRedbreast, Powers, Tullamore Dew, Paddy, Green Spot, Yellow Spot and yes Midleton.

While initially stock from the old Midleton Distillery was used in the Midleton Very Rare  in the mid-1980s, today it is purely whiskey from the current Jameson Midleton Distillery… and more and more what is being released are pot still expressions like this one.

So then who is Barry Crocket? He is their Master Distiller Emeritus … Son of Midleton’s them master distiller, he joined the distillery in 1981 and continued for nearly 50 years…  from when the Irish whiskey industry was struggling to clearly making its mark around the world. And today? He is establishing an archive in the house where he was born on Midleton’s distilling history.

For us, it was a complete mystery… sampled blind with no idea what we were trying…  Here is what we found…

Midleton Barry Crocket Legacy 16 year No 10205 46% American Bourbon seasoned and unseasoned, triple distilled, non chill filtered. MSPR’16 L623631258

  • Colour – Bright yellow
  • Nose – Initially quite fruity, caramel, vanilla, lots of apricots, apple sauce, then shifted into dark chocolate, a bit sour then citrus tang, green apples, lots of honey. Then revealed wood, cumin, caraway seeds, melon seeds… then orange citrus candies.. Then all the intense colours and notes were gone…. After time, perfumes emerged, like scented rubber, then sweet banana synthetic candies, then pine… talcum powder vs sweetened egg yolk… finally fresh tobacco leaf
  • Palate – Honey spice and simply delicious, more of those apples, pears, sweet with white and black pepper, wood, sesame oil and light tobacco, over time it became creamier
  • Finish – There but… completely deceptive. Initially a few remarked there wasn’t much but then… hold it… definitely 100% there… subtle, lightly bitter and gently fruity, long, very long
  • Water – Add and some found it opened up, bringing more body, spice and perfume. Some preferred with water. Some preferred it au naturel.

What a remarkable nose – it kept going through different quite dramatically different shifts.

Overall we were convinced this was simply one well crafted whisky. It had a fruity floral no fooling around quality. What fun!

What do they have to say about Barry Crocket Legacy?

  • Nose – Elegant aroma of vanilla and toasted oak completed by succulent green berries, pears and green sweet pepper
  • Taste – Light pepper carries onto citrus, limes and mandarine orange sweetness. A hint of cinnamon with vanilla and oak revelasyears spent in American oak
  • Finish – The full spectrum of flavours that lasts well into th finish slowly fading to expose the clean American oak foundation

You can still find this whisky from retailers like The Whisky Exchange for approx £150

What trio did we have a tryst with in our Untraditional Pedigree Malts eve?

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Pedigree Malts – Midleton, Sullivans Cove, Kilkerran

There is no doubt that the world of whisky has changed and will continue to change. What has emerged are a few players that are truly “pedigree” even if their origins are not your typical Scottish… Brands that are being recognized for their consistent calibre…

We were treated to such a trio on a fine monsoon swept evening in Mumbai… Each was sampled completely blind with the reveal done only after all three were given our full and careful consideration.

What did we try in our Pedigree Malts?

While none of these are the “traditional” pedigree vintage whiskies, each has a dedication to quality that shines through.

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Speed Tasting Whisky

One fine monsoon weekend, a few folks decided to get together for a lighthearted whisky activity.

Keshav Prakash, of The Vault Fine Spirits, took complete charge and decided we would play a whisky game in 3 parts:

  1. Individual rating
  2. Discussion with comparisons and speculating
  3. Reveal and revisit

In front of us were 5 drams, pre-poured and covered. The rules were simple:

  • Label our rating sheets with our initials and corresponding whisky letter “A… B… C…” as per our table mat
  • Sample each whisky then rate out of 5 on its nose, palate, finish and overall character & complexity
  • Individual activity only – strictly no speaking, comparing impressions or ratings
  • 15 minutes only start to finish then pencils down! Just like in an exam…
  • Beyond that no rules – could get up and walk around, write down more than just the score, whatever worked to achieve a complete rating within the allotted time!

The clock started, the covers came off and the whisky speed dating began…

Part 1 – Speed tasting and rating 

Now… I must confess… I could not rate without documenting my impressions. Long ago I made a conscious decision to not numerically ‘rate’ whisky. So I have never ‘trained’ myself or had the ‘discipline’ of putting hard numbers next to the different elements.

So I pulled out my handy whisky tasting notebook and busily began to scribble random thoughts. That helped sharpen focus and give me enough to then make a split second assessment of each.

Part 2 – Comparing, discussing and guessing

The first question was – are all of these whiskies? Yes.

Then whether some were bourbon, most thought two were ryes… With our votes on which could possibly be which.

Talk turned to some of the different characters – one reminded of cognac cask matured whiskies. Another had peat. We took a stab at guessing some were not Scottish…

Then we shared our individual top rated dram with the overall “winner” the 4th whisky (D) as it had the most character with both sherry and peaty elements.

Photo: Keshav Prakash

Part 3 – Revealing…

This is where the real fun began… three were Jim Murray’s 2016 Whisky Bible winners, one was an Irish grain and the winner? A house blend made by accident more than design!

What a surprise and what a treat!

Click on the links above to ready my hastily scribbled notes compared with Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible or official tasting notes, where applicable.

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