Whisky Advocate

Ask Dave Quinn, whiskey guru at Ireland’s Midleton Distillery

February 26th, 2009

Malt Advocate readers know that we started a new column last year called “A round with…” where we interview interesting and knowledgeable people in the whiskey industry. Previous interviews have included Bill Samuels of Maker’s Mark bourbon, Willie Tait of Isle of Jura, and Jeff Arnett from Jack Daniel’s.

For our next issue, due out May 1st, we are having “A round with” Dave Quinn, Master of Science and whiskey guru for the Midleton Distillery in County Cork, where many of Ireland’s whiskey brands are made (Jameson, Power’s, Paddy, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew, Green Spot, Midleton Very Rare, etc.). Prior to Diageo purchasing Bushmills a few years back, Dave was also intimately involved with Bushmills too.

As you can see, Dave is a great guy to have a round with. Plus he is a really nice guy, which makes us even more excited about the interview.

We’re in the process of formulating our questions for Dave, and we have some interesting ones already. But we though, “Hey, why don’t we ask YOU what you would like to know from Dave?”

So, here’s your chance. Post up a question. If we like it, we’ll ask it to Dave and publish it. It can be a serious one about one of their whiskeys (or someone else’s whiskey for that matter), or it can be something lighthearted. We try to have a good balance of fun and seriousness. After all, this is “A round with…,” not an interrogation! (Just keep the question clean and fair.) Deadline is a week from tomorrow, Friday, March 6th.

Okay, what’s on your mind? What would you like to ask Dave?

17 Responses to “Ask Dave Quinn, whiskey guru at Ireland’s Midleton Distillery”

  1. Tim F says:

    I would love to know why Midleton don’t produce a single grain whiskey. They are the biggest producer in Ireland, it just seems odd.

  2. JC Skinner says:

    I’ve a ton of questions for David!
    Given the popularity of Redbreast 15 yo, why won’t they consider releasing older pure pot still whiskeys?
    Why are there no age statements on any of the Jameson Gold, Signature or Rarest Vintage reserves? Will he tell us how old they are?
    And will he tell us how much pot still whiskey goes into each of the blends down at Midleton?
    Will they ever consider doing a single malt?

  3. John Hansell says:

    Tim F, I would love to try a grain from Midleton. And a Midleton single malt.

    JC, I’d also like to see Redbreast 15 more widely avaiable. Ditto the higher proof Midleton Very Rare single cask that went to Germany (?) I think?

  4. Joe Maissel says:

    Why isn’t Paddy sold in the US? I’m a Powers drinker and wouldn’t mind some more variety in my everyday Irish selections.

  5. Neil Fusillo says:

    I’d like some clarification on the differences between a couple of things. I’ve read an interview with David that talks about the character of a triple-distilled whiskey, and how unique it is to have unpeated malt then triple-distilled. I guess I’d like to know how that differs in characteristics from, say, Auchentoshan, which uses unpeated malt and triple-distillation.

    Are there significant differences in the Irish method of triple distillation using unpeated malt and pot stills and the Scottish method of triple distillation using unpeated malt and pot stills?

  6. Bill Groot says:

    I will echo Joe’s question, Why isn’t Paddy’s sold in the US? And can we expect any pure potstill (ex. Redbreast 15yo) soon? And if so, will it hit the US?

  7. John Hansell says:

    Good questions guys. Keep ‘em coming!

  8. JC Skinner says:

    Hi John.
    The Midleton single cask went to a store here in Dublin. I’ve two bottles of it myself. It took the store five years of negotiations to do the deal, apparently.
    I’m not aware of any cask that went to Germany, myself. I believe this is the first single cask done of Midleton VR.
    As for Redbreast 15 yo, it was a limited release (20,000 or so bottles?) originally intended for a French retailer. It sold over 2 years ago, and there has not been any further release hence the high prices on the resale market.
    Clearly there is a huge demand for a product like this. And with the pure pot still a major component of many of IDL’s whiskeys, and with Redbreast 12 yo a regular release, surely it’s not an issue of lack of reserves preventing them from doing an older Pure Pot Still whiskey.
    @Bill Groot: Redbreast 12 yo and Green Spot (made at Midleton, but not an IDL product) are both pure pot still and are available to a degree in the US.
    Another question I’d have for David would be whether there is any plan to phase out Crested Ten, or rebrand it as a Jameson?

  9. John Hansell says:

    JC: Yes, that’s where I saw the Midleton single cask advertised. I have a bottle of the Redbreast 15 (Yum!), thanks to one of my connections.

    Redbreast has been available here for years, but not Green Spot. One importer I know tried to get Green Spot imported to the US, but it fell through.

    I like Crested Ten (especially for the price). It’s seen (and marketed) in Ireland as an older man’s drink from what I remember. I hope it doesn’t get phased out. It’s not available in the states.

    Okay, so back to more questions for Dave.

  10. JC Skinner says:

    IDL have commenced a new marketing push in Ireland behind Powers as of today, which has also been seen as an ‘old man’s dram’ here.
    This marks the first major whiskey ad campaign from IDL that wasn’t on behalf of Jameson for quite some time.
    However, Paddy drinkers are now concerned about the lack of support for it, and there were whispers at a recent Irish Whiskey Society meeting about organising a ‘Save Paddy!’ campaign.
    My own concerns relate to Crested Ten, already part of the Jameson brand but with very separate livery and no marketing whatsoever. I like it very much and would be concerned it might be phased out, or else rebranded as a Jameson Vintage with concomitant price hike.
    Sorry to derail the conversation!

  11. Michael Foggarty says:

    I would like to know how much Greenspot is released per year and if it is actually a pot still(it does not state it on the label and rumours are rife at the moment thanks to a couple of IDL employees saying it wasnt a pot still).
    Greenspot 10 yo and 12 yo both state on the label that they are “single pot still”.
    I also want to know how they are going to handle the term “pure pot still” im told this is no longer legal, Cooley took this to the European Courts i dont know the results but Noel Sweeney made reference recently that this term was now illegal.

    Of the Jameson Gold i would imagine there is no age statement due to the fact that some of the whiskey is aged in virgin oak at approx 8 yo, this being the minimum age, they surely werent going to put that on a bottle twice the price of Jameson 12 yo.

    There was a bottling of Midleton released in spring 2005 for a German magazine (966 bottles 12 yo, 40%) it states that it is “A very special composition” so unlikely a single cask.

    Midleton did release a single malt called “Erin Go Brath” at 6 years old, going by the quality if this i can see why they dont make single malt!

  12. John Hansell says:

    Michael,

    From what I know, Green Spot (and the two limited edition releases of 10 and 12 year old–which I have) are all pure pot still.

    It’s like IDL is testing the water with some limited-edition Midleton Very Rare offerings. I’d like to see more.

    Regarding the Erin Go Bragh (which I also had but drank), that was not an official bottling sanctioned by Midleton (IDL), but rather something that leaked out via a broker.

  13. John M says:

    I had heard that they were releasing three single casks (Midleton, that is). One for Europe, one for Ireland and one for the U.S. I’m not sure if this is going to happen now.

    And I’m with Michael on the age statements. There’s some young whiskey in the Midletons and the Jamesons, so they don’t advertise the age because it would put some people off.

    Here’s a question I’d like asked. I love Midleton whiskey, probably over any other whisk(e)y. But if a Scotish distillery releases a 25-year-old single malt, single cask whisky, it’s going to cost anywhere between 100 euro and 300 euro. However, if Midleton releases a pure pot still 25-year-old whiskey, it’s going to cost well over 1,000 euro. Why the difference in price?

    I’m sure David is not in charge of pricing, but this is a little frustrating. Also, the Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve is superb, in my opinion, but in the US it’s $250, while in Ireland it’s 400 euro. Why the massive difference?

    Kind regards

    John

  14. John M says:

    PS… I believe that the Midleton pot stills don’t make great single malt. I think it goes into Paddy. They make one batch every few years.

    And I was at a tasting when David was present and he said that they loved hearing the good feedback about the Redbreast 15. It’s the kind of thing they like to hear when planning new releases. But aged stocks are low at the distillery.

    I presume that’s why the oldest component of the Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve is the grain, not the pot still.

    John

  15. John M says:

    And finally, maybe a silly question, but how difficult would it be to get the Old Midleton distillery up and running?

    John

  16. JC Skinner says:

    Ooh, one last question I thought of: How does Dave compare his experiences at Bushmills and Midleton? Is there anything at Bushmills he’d like to see done at Midleton, or vice versa?

  17. Jean D says:

    Red Breast 12 YO and 15 YO are to me exceptional whiskeys. Yet, I find the taste of the 15 YO very different from the 12 YO, even if they share some obvious family character.

    In other words, I feel that the 15 YO is quite a bit more different from the 12 YO than the 3 years of extra maturation could explain alone. I could imagine for instance that the mashbill is different in including, beside the common un-malted barley, different grains in the two expressions.

    Is this the case, or is there any other difference than the 3 years of maturation ?

    Thank you.

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