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Marvellous Midleton

Gavin D Smith, 2013

still house With Irish whiskey sales still buoyant, Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard has underlined its on-going commitment to single pot still whiskeys with the opening of a new stillhouse at its Midleton complex in County Cork (right).

Previously, facilities at the site had been augmented by a 'Whisky Academy,' which became operational in February and offers a range of exclusive, in-depth packages to the public, press and catering professionals.

Meanwhile, seeking a more up-market product to compete with single malt Scotch and small batch Bourbons on the international stage, Irish Distillers began a programme in May 2011 to promote what many consumers consider 'real' Irish whiskey; that is single pot still whiskey.

Defined by Irish Distillers as "Made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley, which is then triple distilled in traditional copper pot stills, pot still Irish whiskeys are characterised by full, complex flavours and a wonderful, creamy mouth-feel. The inclusion of unmalted barley to the mashbill, along with the tradition of triple distillation, defines the character of pot still and this uniquely Irish approach to whiskey distillation."

The programme commenced with the release of Powers John's Lane, named after the address of Powers' original distillery in Dublin, and Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy, a tribute to the distillery's former master distiller. Since then the existing Redbreast brand of pot still whiskey has been expanded, while the Yellow Spot name has been revived to sit alongside the surviving Green Spot label.

stills Now however, the single pot still project has gained its greatest momentum to date, with three new releases and the official opening of The Garden Stillhouse at Midleton, complete with a trio of pot stills, each with an 80,000 litre capacity, though another three stills are to be installed in the not too distant future.

The stills in the new facility are exact copies of the existing pots installed at Midleton when the site was created in the mid-1970s, and which will be complemented by the additional Garden Stillhouse capacity. When all six Garden Stillhouse stills are operational, they will turn out an annual 20 million litres of spirit.

This may seem like a large amount, but according to Master Distiller Brian Nation, who succeeded Barry Crockett in the role after a 10 year 'apprenticeship,' "We plan to release two new pot still whiskeys every year for the next 10 years."

The most recent additions to the line-up include the Paddy Centenary Edition, a seven year old single pot still whiskey which celebrates the original recipe which was a seven year old 'Pure Pot Still', as it was termed in 1913, long before Paddy became the relatively light-bodied blend we associate with the name today.

According to Irish Distillers, "Paddy Centenary Edition celebrates the best of old and new whiskey-making techniques, producing a flavour profile that has rich spicy notes, typical of aged pot still whiskey and hints of vanilla, true to the brand's signature style."

Meanwhile, Redbreast's portfolio of 12-year-old, 12-year-old cask strength and 15-year-old variants has been augmented by Redbreast 21 Year Old. The distillers note that "As the oldest and richest expression in the decorated Redbreast family, Redbreast 21 Year Old is the finest representation of the brand's signature sherry style. It is made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley, triple distilled in copper pot stills and matured in a combination of American Bourbon barrels and first fill Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks."

Powers Along with Paddy, Powers is one of the best-known and most celebrated Irish whiskey brands, excepting, of course, the mighty Jameson, and Power's has been given a makeover and a new recipe - non-chill-filtered - for the familiar blended version, while a single pot still variant has been released under the Powers Signature Release label.

"The new Signature expression bears the hallmark spicy flavours that are typical of the Powers whiskeys, with black pepper, honey, vanilla and berries in abundance," says an Irish Distillers' spokesperson. "Using the signature Powers pot still distillate, it has been matured mainly in American Bourbon barrels with the subtle inclusion of whiskey matured in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks."

These are all most welcome editions to the catalogue of Irish whiskey, and with Irish Distillers' ambitious release programme in place, there is lots more to look forward to in the future.

TASTING NOTES

Paddy Centenary Limited Edition
43.0%abv. Grated ginger, burnt toffee, mango and cinnamon on the nose. Smooth, nutty and slightly viscous in the mouth, with vanilla and lots of cereal spice. The finish is medium in length and spicy. 75.00, travel retail and specialist outlets.

Redbreast 21-year-old
46.0%abv. Machine oil, figs and citrus fruit on the nose. Slightly herbaceous. Mouth-coating and richly-spiced on the palate, with pipe tobacco and liquorice. The finish is long drying and oaky, with citrus fruit notes. 112.00, specialist retailers.

Power's Signature Release
46.0%abv. The nose is slightly floral, with soft malt, ginger and figs. Full, rich and warming on the palate, with liquorice and spicy cereal notes. Relatively long in the finish, viscous and nutty. 32.00, specialist outlets (principally Ireland and USA).

Power's Gold Label
43.2%abv. Barley sugar, orchard fruits and cloves on the nose. Nicely textured and spicy in the mouth, pepper and nutmeg, plus vanilla and more fresh fruit, with succulent grain notes. Smooth and lingering in the spicy finish. 25.95, specialist outlets (principally Ireland and USA).
  

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