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 we have here is the Method and Madness Single Grain Irish Whiskey, which may actually be made from a mixed-grain mash bill, but is all made in one single distillery. The dram is matured in first fill bourbon casks, leading to an expectation of caramel and toffee sweetness in the whiskey. It is then finished in virgin Spanish oak casks which, as opposed to American oak, has less vanilla and more spice notes like cloves, cinnamon, and dried fruits.
Though the mash bill is not advertised, whatever it is appears to have worked because this particular whiskey won gold in the Irish Single Grain category at the Irish Whiskey Awards in 2017, 2018, and 2019 as well as a number of more recent awards from other whiskey competitions.
I’ll leave you with the thoughts crossing my mind after trying all four expressions from Method and Madness. As my mind wandered back through the ages, across the ocean, to a time when whiskey was born, I imagined an Irishman and a Scotsman yelling at each other in 1000 A.D. “Uisge!” – “No! Uisce!” – “Gonnae no’ dae that!”. Life suddenly felt pretty good.
Tasting Notes: Method and Madness Single Grain Irish Whiskey
Vital Stats: No age statement; matured in ex-bourbon casks and finished in virgin Spanish oak casks; 92 proof (46% ABV); $85.
Appearance: Light yellow with a tint of brown oak.
Nose: A burst of red wine cask immediately fades to something my brain says is “limoncello!” After, sugary lemon flan remains with white oak.
Palate: The immediately soft taste is full of rye and sage. It turns mid-way into caramel and corn bourbon, without becoming toasted or charred. The end sensation is velvety with barley and coconut finishing the experience.
Whiskey Review: Method and Madness Single Grain Irish Whiskey
This variation of the Method and Madness flagship I tasted and felt it left something to be desired compared to the other expressions. This whiskey tries to be a lot of things, but by extension tries to be too many things. I want to be very clear, it is an enjoyable whiskey that I, if offered, would not turn down. However, after the initial burst of flavor, the palate lacks endurance or completion. With so many good offerings from Method and Madness, there are other places to go first.
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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....