Meet The Master Distiller from IDL.

Meet The Master Distiller from IDL.

Barry Crocket Please tell our readers your back ground and how long have you been involved with Irish Distillers?
Meet The Master Distiller from IDL.

I have been involved with Irish Distillers all my working life, I began working in Middleton when I was 17-years.I’ve been Master Distiller for 30-years.

What are the major developments within Irish Distillers?
The present distillery was commissioned in 1975 so I saw the transition from the old one to the new at that time. The task of the late 1970 /mid 1980 period was to preserve the heritage of the brands in a new distillery, but to also present Jameson as a particularly smooth flavoured whiskey suited to the international taste.
The success of Jameson over the years has demonstrated importance of distillation and warehousing methods at Midleton distillery.
This success is so dramatic that an expansion of Midleton distillery is now under way, costing 100 m Euro this will lead Midleton Distillery and Jameson well into the 21 century. On completion the distillery capacity will be 64 m litres of pure alcohol and will mean the Irish distilling industry will significantly exceed the height of its success in the 19 century.

Can you tell us the story behind some of the main whiskies, their inspiration etc?
In the mid 1970’s the Company decided to re establish the exports of Irish whiskey. The initial focus was on the United States but Jameson Irish Whiskey is now an international brand established in world wide markets. Just this year we celebrated Jameson passing the milestone of 1 m case sales in the United States with worldwide sales exceeding 3 million. Meanwhile there is increasing interest in brands such as Powers Gold Label as well as Paddy.
These brands each have a unique identity in terms of heritage and taste. The flexibility of Midleton distillery ensures the individual characteristics of each are maintained.
This flexibility is demonstrated in the brewing system employed and of course adhering to the tradition of triple distillation for each of the whiskey brands.
Where maturation is concerned significant research into maturation was undertaken in the 1980s.
Better quality casks were purchased. Close business relations with cooperages in Spain and Portugal were formed.
By laying down stocks of whiskey in different cask styles we have the ability to extend the Jameson range, thus we have such expressions as Jameson 18, Jameson Gold and Vintage Reserve.
More recently we presented the Single Irish Pot Still category. This is a major development in the story of Irish whiskey since it represents the availability again of the original expression of the Irish Whiskey style. People would know this from the Redbreast range, but this year we have launched Powers Johns Lane as well as Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy, in addition Greenspot has been represented.


Which whiskey are you currently working with, and what’s happening there?
Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy-The old distillery in Midleton was recognised for decades for the excellence of its whiskies and the distillery was always keen to enhance its reputation
Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy as a single Irish Pot Still style adheres to four aspects.
 Firstly it’s brewed from a mix of malted barley and a high percentage of unmalted barley. This gives specific flavours, apple ripe, pear peach flavour. The mouth fee has a soft roundness and smoothness of palate.
Secondly the style of distillation. There are three separated stages of distillation. New spirit is distilled to 85% volume. This enhances light flavoured honey and floral type aspects of the spirit.

Thirdly, the casks in this case are all US Bourbon barrels first fill,  These tend to give a vanilla style toasted wood flavour.
Fourthly with Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy maturation we use a certain proportion of new American Oak casks. The result a spiciness as well as green berry spiciness imparted to the spirit.
In summary all casks from Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy are American casks, a small percentage are brand new.  For Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy we wanted to see more flavour in the whiskey. The Single Irish Pot Still whiskey fulfils that role.

Describe the composition of Middleton Very Rare?
This is blended of Pot Still whiskey with grain whiskey. Its matured in first fill Bourbon casks. All casks are individually selected.
Midleton Very Rare has been on the market since 1984 and is an annual selection.

Is the Swedish market an important market for Irish Distillers?
Yes the Swedish market is an important market for us. We envisage a great future for Jameson as well as Redbreast.

What makes Irish whiskey so special?
There are a number of reasons for this. It especially offers the delicate aroma arising from the barley as well as a evenly balanced taste potential on the palate. It is ideal and perfect for a novice, whereas the experienced whiskey connoisseur can experience the flavours ranging from apple /pear to vanilla characteristics.
The Pot Still range offer great possibility particularly those at top end of the market.

What’s your favourite current Whiskey?
Jameson 18 years offers a super mouth feel sensation, mellow softness and fruity effect on the palate.

What do you look for in a whiskey?
I look for balance, for example in the aroma; I don’t want one individual flavour which dominates. Mouth feel silky velvety feel on the palate, long finish, lingering. Influence of raw materials, ie Barley.

What can you tell us about Midleton that we may not know?
The first thing is that on single distillery site at Midleton there are two distilleries. The first is clearly a Pot Still, and the second is a grain whisky distillery. Midleton is a plant which is both flexible and complex.
Bear in mind that we got to produce all the whiskies with the resources available. We have full control over all stages of the brewing / distillation and maturation process.

 

Any myths you would like to explain?
John Jameson was particularly careful in the selection of barley for distillation when he founded his distillery.
Though this sounds like a good story it is true that barley selection is vitally important. John Jameson was correct when insisting
on quality selection. This policy remains vital through to today.
Irish Whiskey lost its advantage principally due to prohibition in the United States. This is partially true, but the more important reason
was poor economic circumstances in Ireland.
Irish whiskey has not recovered from its great days during the 19 century.
This was true for a long time, however the growth of Jameson means that Irish Whiskey will shortly be far more successful than ever in the past.
 
Which qualities would you admire the most in Redbreast?
We are returning to our roots with Pot Still whiskey.
The sheer range of flavours available. Cask styles are giving their fullest expression.
There are three expressions within the Redbreast range. Redbreast 12 year Redbreast 15 and Redbreast Cask Strength which was launched just recently.

Which qualities would you admire the most in Powers Gold Label?
Strong and more fully flavour coming through represents what most people expect from Irish whiskey.
This is a whiskey originally a favourite among Irish people.
This makes it perfect for a Hot Whiskey or Irish coffee especially in cold winter weather.

Anything else you want to tell us?
Our Distillery is based near Cork, the south of Ireland which has a modest climate. We source our water from a local stream. All barley used is purchased from farmers in the vicinity of the distillery. We warehouse all whiskies on site at Midleton.

Which Whiskey would you recommend for a novice and a more experienced drinker?
A whiskey drinker coming new to the world of Irish whiskey could do no better than commence with Jameson. While a more experienced drinker should try Redbreast 12 year old, this has an enhancement of flavour and balance, the distillate style combined with influences from American wood with Spanish sherry lead to a unique flavour experience.

What is the future for Irish Whiskies?
Single Irish Pot style was the bedrock and will now re-establish itself and it will add dramatically to the reputation of Irish Whiskey.
Meanwhile Jameson Irish Whiskey continues to go from strength to strength.

 

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