The Method and Madness range comprises: Single Grain whiskey finished in virgin Spanish oak casks, a Single Malt, "enhanced" in Limousine oak casks, a Single Pot Still, finished in French chestnut barrels and a Single Grain 31 Year Old, which is a limited edition from a single cask.
The whiskeys come in distinctive square-shaped bottles with none of the usual whisk(e)y cues on the packaging.
The thinking behind the range is encapsulated in the masthead: "When knowledge and discovery collide - New whiskey from the minds of Midleton's masters and apprentices."
The 'method' represents the old guard at Irish Distillers' Midleton distillery outside Cork, the master blenders and distillers who have been doing it for years. Whereas the 'madness' refers to the young apprentices who are likely to ask potentially awkward and embarrassing questions such as: 'Why are you doing it that way?'
For the entry level 'Single Grain, finished in virgin Spanish oak' (€49), the oak was sourced from the Galicia region on northern Spain, then brought down to Jerez, sherry country, for seasoning. It is then shipped to the coopers at Midleton.
Irish Distillers' master blender, Billy Leighton explained that the 12 months in virgin Spanish oak "beefed up" the fairly neutral eight-year-old grain spirit. He described it as "cedar wood on the nose with a sweetness and spicyness, cloves on the palate.
For the 'Single Malt, finished in French Limousin oak' (€79), Leighton said the different oak, used in the company's Green Spot whiskeys, gave a distinct perfume and complemented the malt which was distilled at Bushmills in 2002. He said the whiskey had mealy, barley balanced with a green herbal top note.
For a complete departure or 'Madness' side, the 'Single Pot Still' is 'finished in French chestnut' (€69). The sweet or Spanish chestnut is part of the same family or species as oak and the wood for these barrels came from trees in south-eastern France.
Leighton espoused the chestnut wood compliments the pot still distillate, giving it a sweetness and lightness with notes of cinnamon and cloves.
Finally, not for the faint-hearted/less well off, there is a 31-year-old single grain from one barrel which comes in at an astounding €1,500. There are only approximately 100 bottles. Leighton described it first off as like "golden rum" and it does have golden syrup, treacle notes.
These new whiskeys from Irish Distillers are available in Ireland, UK, France, Irish travel retail, the 31-year-old only from April.