Together with my collegues from O’Briens I recently had the pleasure of attending the Irish Whiskey Academy in the Midleton distillery. Launched by Irish Distillers in 2013 to educate members of the drinks industry in the craft of Irish whiskey making from grain to glass.
Our day began nice and early in the state of the art academy classroom where we learned about the importance and influence of the three simple ingredients that make up Single Pot Still Irish whiskey, namely: water, barley and yeast. Next were shown the process by which these simple ingredients are brewed and distilled and the enormous technical ability, skill and craft though which this is achieved.
We then moved to the lab and tried our hand at making our own albeit on a smaller scale before having the rare opportunityof tasting some new make spirit.
From here we weretreated to a tour of the facility visiting the Grain store, Brewhouse, Fermenters and Stillhouse before returning to the classroom to study the distillation of grain spirit in continuous stills which adds a lighter and sweeter dimension toblended whiskeys.Midleton is one of the very few distilleries in the world to create whiskey using both copper pots and continuous stills.
Next we learned about the passion, craft, experimentation that goes into the Maturation of Whiskeyusing American Bourbon and Spanish Sherry and wine casks among many more. This was followed up with a tasting of some of the premium range produced at Midleton to see how all these factors come together to create some of the finest whiskeys in the world. My personal favourites were Jameson Select Reserve and the Powers Johns Lane.
Wefinishedour day in one of the 45 warehouses that combined store over 1.2 million casks of maturing whiskey and had the unique experience oftastingsome aging whiskey direct from cask!
Thank you to all those at the Midleton distillery for a truly enjoyable and informative day. There is not enough space in this blog to go into the finer detail of all we experienced but if you would like find out more for yourself, the Irish Whiskey Academy is now open to the public with a range of courses available from just 2 hours to 2 full days. Whichever you choose you will be guaranteed a wonderful experience. You can find out more about it here.