Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Most of us remember a time we thought, “wait… is it ‘whiskey’ or ‘whisky’?” before turning to Wikipedia for salvation. Was it the first time you noticed the difference? Or like me, did you return to the question after forgetting what you previously read? Take solace in the face that people may have been having the same argument 1000 years ago. Uisce Beatha, or “the water of life”, was the first known name for whiskey on the Emerald Isle (Ireland). But wait! The Scottish Gaelic spelling is slightly different – Uisge Beatha. And so the great debate was started, even though both refer to the same thing: spirits distilled from fermented grain mash.
While modern whiskey finds its roots in Scotland and Ireland, over the centuries various cultures have added their own flare to the process. The Scots and Irish started the trend somewhere between 1000 A.D. and 1500 A.D., before it traveled to the Americas in the 1600s, and on to Japan around 1870. Today, I’m trying one of the originals, an Irish whiskey (yes with an ‘e’), from the innovative group at Method and Madness microdistillery. The distillery was founded in Midleton in 2015 and was used as a training hub by the masters for the apprentices.
As implied from its Shakespearean derivation “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t” (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2), it is the experimental branch of the Irish Distillers collection and “has provided the copper canvas for experimentation to run free.” “There will be trial, and error, and brilliant bottled breakthroughs that start with ‘What if?’”
What I’m reviewing here is the Method and Madness Rye and Malt. The mash bill of the spirit is 60% rye and 40% malted barley, which is a rare combination from my experience as an American whiskey, bourbon, and scotch drinker. Like the Method and Madness Single Grain Irish Whiskey and Method and Madness Single Malt Irish Whiskey expressions, it is matured in ex-bourbon casks, but there is no indication that it was finished in anything different.
Additionally, this whiskey is specifically noted as double distilled, as opposed to the more common triple distillation in most Irish whiskeys.
Having tried other whiskeys from this brand, my expectation before trying the dram is that the sweet caramel of the bourbon casks will remain consistent, but the addition of a high rye mash bill and double distillation will kick up the spice flavor in the expression. The lack of a finishing barrel will by no means render the whiskey less complex, but rather more oriented toward the underlying rye and barley flavors.
The whiskey is also non-chill filtered, meaning that many of the oils and fats that could turn the alcohol slightly cloudy have not been removed. The clouding is harmless, while the additional oils and fats may have some effect on the flavor and texture of the whiskey, and purists consider it a preferable form of spirit.
Tasting Notes: Method and Madness Rye and Malt Irish Whiskey
Vital Stats: No age statement; aged in ex-bourbon casks; mash bill of 60% rye and 40% malted barley; 92 proof (46% ABV); $80.
Appearance: Clear with a touch of yellow, like a sparkling white wine on a sunny day.
Nose: Rye and vanilla straight on the nose, with hay and rice cakes getting in the tousle. Nice fruit of tangerine and marionberry persist with a back end of floral lavender and cloves.
Palate: Chewy in an enjoyable way, there is light hay with the sherry, pear and peach flavors initially. The whiskey ramps us to a nice wheat and cereal flavor, and leads to a finish of light vanilla and breakfast toast.
Whiskey Review: Method And Madness Rye And Malt Irish Whiskey
Fun. Very Fun. This whiskey is a dance compared to the more stately Scotch experience. Very different from the rye in brands I’m familiar with like WhistlePig, Willet Rye, or High West Double Rye. Method and Madness Rye and Malt truly blends the chocolate and malt nicely with much-softer-than-standard rye flavors.
I can see why they chose not to finish the whiskey in a separate type of cask, as just a little change could throw it off course, making it too hot or too cold. It probably took some tinkering, but the distillers got this juuust right.
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I am a Portland area attorney whose career has dovetailed with a love of fine spirits and cigars. With no formal training in the field, my own interest spurred a thorough education through books, articles, visits to distilleries all over the United States, and a few deep dives into Wikipedia....