Updated: Mar 29
Fibre-optic cable distillery, 75,000 litre pot stills & history dating back all the way to the 17th century. The Midleton distillery produces the worlds leader in Irish Whiskey, amongst other brands, yet the guys at the site aren't looking to slow down anytime soon...
They say that its something to have the luck of the Irish, yet the Irish told we were lucky that on the day we're visiting the Midleton Distillery in Cork the sun was out & there wasn't even a cloud in the sky. Thousands have visited the magnificent venue to drink, be merry & learn a thing or two about their favourite drop of whiskey.
Any good bartender worth his salt should make the pilgrimage to the good city of Cork for this journey. Naturally being "good bartenders" when we got the call from Jamesons about an opportunity to visit the home of one of our favourite whiskeys we couldn't turn the offer down!
So theres barrels of whiskey, bottles of whiskey & most importantly the first room has a magnificent whiskey chandelier. Now there's probably been tomes written about the production processes, the capacity & some of the more notable whiskey blogs might get directly into the nitty gritty of it all. There's some things we particularly took away from the experience though that stood out to us at Cocktails For You.
The location has survived world wars, political turmoil, famines & multiple corporate mergers & yet walking through the distillery with our guide for the first part of our tour you can help but realise that the entire staff are family, friends or some sort of relatives. That many of their key members have been working at the distillery for generations & will probably still be there for generations to come. We as bartenders spend a lot of time giving grief to big corporate companies for one reason or another.
Yet, how can you not force a smile when one of the workers walking past out guide is his son, then an older gentleman comes around the corner & call our guide "nephew". This place was built by a family, supports families & we a gentle warming feeling fills our hearts as we're treated in exactly the same way. After this trip we feel like we've become a part of one...
That being said its important to get some details out of the way, as a young bartender you're taught some of the basics of Irish whiskey. New things we learned today that particularly concern Jameson is their certain approach to malting barley, distillation & sustainability during the production process of the fine whiskey.
The special kilns, where the barley is malted, lined with tiles that were designed in a unique way based on the honeycomb-like structure of bee's nests. Special tiles that allow heat to pass through barley conniving it that its Spring & its time to germinate yet not letting any of the barley fall back through into the ovens below.
Then came some interesting aspects of the distillation of the Jamesons whiskey itself. We've all been told that Irish whiskey needs to be distilled 3 times as opposed to Scotch twice. What particularly struck me as interesting when it comes to the Jamesons brand is that their combination of grain they use, in particular corn, in the process as well as a use of a secret mixture of both malted & un-malted barley! I'd never heart of whisky companies use such a particular style of process before & I think it definitely contributes to the final favour product of Jamesons.
Eventually we'd been lead into a separate building next to the main new distillery complex. We'd actually finally arrived at the Jamesons Bartender Academy as well as the magnificent 75,000 litre pot stills used to make all of the 31 millions cases of Jamesons sold worldwide annually.
Blessed with the opportunity to get a guided tasting from the Global Brand Ambassador of the Midleton Distillery we were able to sample some of the other expressions from the Jamesons range that you don't normally have access to - IPA Caskmates, Stout Caskmates, Jameson Crested.
I'm not one with a great ability of tasting note descriptions but I'll give you this. When you sit down & really get into it, whiskey is bloody amazing, furthermore these lads at Jamesons aren't just bringing new expressions "for the craic". Every single expression had its own personality, I'd enjoy them in different ways & order them at different occasions. Finally, they were all bloody delicious!
For me personally the Crested was a standout drop, Full bodied & in my face is how I like my whiskies. Eddie preferred the Black Barrel, one of his go-to Irish whiskies yet the IPA Caskmates really opened his horizons!
Unfortunately we'd arrived at the distillery during its annual "Shutdown" period where the entire operation is dismantled & cleaned down to its core therefore we didn't have access to the main stills. We're not upset Jameson, we're just disappointed we didn't see your big guns...
In the end we love you Midleton. We hope to come back soon!