The Micro-Distillery Within the Massive Midleton Distillery
The Midleton Distillery is home to Jameson and the entire Irish Distillers product portfolio from Pernod Ricard. It is monumentally massive. Their pot stills (pictured above), are the largest operational pot stills in the world, with 80,000 Liter capacities each. With several new ones on the way, they’ll soon have a total of 10 pot stills in addition to the huge column stills they use to produce grain whiskey.
However, tucked away in one of the original buildings at the Old Midleton Distillery is a brand new micro-distillery. That means that as of 2015, for the first time the grounds at Old Midleton are actually home to distillation, as opposed to all production taking place at its shiny, adjacent counterpart and those massive stills.
At the micro-distillery, there’s a sparkling set of three pot stills, absolutely tiny in comparison to the scale of Jameson, but yet still large enough to send the vast majority of today’s craft distilleries into an envious frenzy. The wash still has a 2,500 L capacity, and the feints and spirits stills each have a 1,500 L capacity.
Note: Photos were not allowed inside the micro-distillery building, hence, there are no photos of the new stills included here. The photo above showcases part of the new modern Midleton facility towering behind one of the original old Midleton buildings.
Set up for a traditionally Irish triple distillation process, the Midleton micro-distillery will be producing single pot still Irish whiskey, which is whiskey made with a mix of both malted and unmalted barley. While they don’t know exactly what they’re going to do with these new whiskey wares yet, it’s likely destined for either an entirely new brand or a new offshoot label of an existing brand.
What they do know is that the micro-distillery offers Midleton an opportunity for experimentation and innovation. With such relatively small batches, they’re able to try things and make tweaks they would never dare with a full-size batch at new Midleton. Those stills have to be firing away at full-speed just to keep up with demand for existing products — right now, they produce 5.1 million cases of Jameson per year, with a goal of 9 million cases by 2020.
There are no such demands at the micro-distillery, though. That allows Karen Cotter, the distiller in charge of the facility, to play around a bit in search of what works best. The micro-distillery has also been described as an opportunity for some firsthand training for Cotter. Perhaps being groomed to one day be in charge of those 80,000 L behemoths, she’s gaining crucial hands-on experience at the micro-distillery in the mean time.
The micro-distillery will be churning out roughly 400 barrels worth per year. With a three-year minimum aging requirement for Irish whiskey, stay tuned towards the start of 2019 for some exciting Midleton micro-distillery small batch releases hitting the marketplace.