Monday 13 February 2012

Distillery of the Year

Midleton has garnered the very handsome accolade of Distillery of the Year from Whisky Advocate magazine. It's an impressive award because the magazine is based in the US and surveys the entire world of whiskey. Its annual gongs are based on a year of tasting as many releases as possible on behalf of its readers. There is no self-nomination process for distillers, no money changing hands, no considerations other than merit. There are probably no more objective or informed awards in the business than the Whisky Advocate awards.

So, Midleton - home of Jameson, Powers, Redbreast, Green Spot and others - is the Distillery of the Year. The citation from the magazine recaps the justifications very neatly so I won't repeat them. Suffice to say I agree wholeheartedly. 2011 was Irish Distillers' (IDL) year. A good one for the company, an even better one for fans of Irish whiskey thanks to their new Single Pot Still (SPS) programme.

The article finishes by referring to Whisky Advocate's Irish Whiskey of the Year, Redbreast 12 year old Cask Strength, announced a few days earlier. It was only one of several remarkable new whiskeys from Irish Disillers during the year so I'm going to gently disagree and nominate the Powers John's Lane Release instead. The author of the Whiskey Bible, Jim Murray, also chose the Powers as the top Irish sup of 2011.

We have plenty more to look forward to from Midleton since they have committed to new SPS releases every year. There is also a very important anniversary coming up for them. I saw this photo illustrating an article in the Sunday Business Post in January. It was uncaptioned and the article never referred to it but it shows Barry Crockett, Master Distiller, beside a cask "reserved for 2030".

Barry Crockett / photo from the Sunday Business Post

What's 2030? The 250th anniversary of the founding of the Jameson distillery in 1780. I'm sure IDL has already laid down in cask something good to give us in 2030 to celebrate. Let's hope we are all still around to taste it!

By the way, if you fancy making the stuff instead of just drinking it, and you want to work for the top distillery in the world, Irish distillers is looking for graduates for its training programme at the moment.