Jared Anderson Wins the SF Pavan Sangria Challenge
With Tobacco-Flavored Liquor, You Can Smoke While You Drink

The Wide Variety of Irish Whiskey Made at Midleton

RedbreastJameson, Redbreast, Green Spot, Midleton Very Rare, Powers John Lane, Paddy: These Irish whiskeys and more are all made at one distillery: Midleton in County Cork, Ireland. 

On a recent trip the distillery for a big celebration (I wrote about that here), I learned more about the differences between various products, and gained some perspective on where Irish whiskey sits in with other products. 

To hugely oversimplify what are the constants and what changes in different types of whiskey:

  • Single-malt scotch whisky is made from 100% malted barley and distilled in pot stills. They typically make one distillate, and the single malts that come from a single distillery are differentiated by how long they're aged and in what type of barrels they're aged (ex-bourbon, sherry, etc.)
  • Many bourbon distilleries focus on a single mash bill (blend of grains) that they distill in column stills into a single distillate. Since it's all aged in new American oak casks, the various bourbons that come out of a single distillery are differentiated by their length of aging and final proof of the spirit. 
  • For Japanese whisky, they use many different shapes of still as well as many different types of barrels and often buy grain at different peating levels. They have a lot of different whiskies aging that they blend to make both blended and single-malt products. 

There are big exceptions to all of the above. 

 For Irish whiskey, there are three main distilleries. Midleton makes triple-distilled malted/unmalted pot still whiskey (called "pot still" on its own and "single pot still" when it comes from one distillery) as well as column distilled grain whiskey. Bushmills makes triple-pot-distilled malt whiskey ("single malt") that they sometimes blend with Midleton's column still whiskey. And Cooley makes double-pot-distilled malt whiskey ("single-malt") and column still grain whiskey. [See this blog post for a handy chart.]

But just looking within Midleton, they don't make just one triple-distilled pot still whiskey; they make four. I believe these are designated internally as light, two different medium ("mod pot"), and a heavy. These are made by different variations on the mash bills (ratio of malted to unmalted barley), how high they distill to, and where they cut heads and tails in the distillation. 

They use these distillates in different ratios in the final products. That's why the Single Pot Still Irish Whiskeys made at Midleton can have such distinct personalities, despite all sharing certain characteristics such as apple and butter notes. They're made from any of four malt/unmalted pot still whiskies, aged for a different number of years in different types of barrels, and bottled at different proofs. 

From one distillery comes many options. 

Midleton single pot still whiskies


  • Jameson
  • Jameson 12 Year Old
  • Jameson 18 Year Old
  • Jameson Gold Reserve
  • Jameson Signature Reserve
  • Jameson Select Reserve
  • Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve
  • Paddy
  • Midleton Very Rare

Single Pot Still

  • Redbreast 12 Year Old
  • Redbreast 15 Year Old
  • Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength
  • Green Spot
  • Yellow Spot
  • Powers John's Lane Release
  • Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


So any ideas about what the Redbreast is? I'm guessing its based on the 'heavy'.

And are the 12 and 15 even the same blend of distillate?

Did you get a chance to try and of the four distillates unblended?

Camper English

I don't know either but I'd also make a guess for there being a good proportion of 'heavy' in Redbreast.

This visit wasn't an opportunity to taste the different distillates but would be great thing to try sometime, either right after distillation or after aging. (Not positive they age the distillates separately but that seems to make the most sense.)


I've heard Knappogue Castle is also made at Cooley. How does one track down the labels of whiskey that come from each of these distilleries? Why are there only 3 in Ireland? Is it a legal thing?

Camper English

Yes, Knappogue Castle is made at Cooley. In most spirits in the world there are no tracking mechanisms to tell where something is made (tequila is the only exception that I know of, as every 100% agave tequila is labelled with a number corresponding to the distillery where it was made), and it's super common for multiple brands to come from a single distillery.

As for why there are only 3 distilleries in Ireland, here's a brief history of it:

It's not a legal thing at all, it's an economic thing. That's all changing now with a bunch of new distilleries opening.


The Midelton Distillery also pumps out the Writers Tears Pot Still Whiskey while their distillery is being commissioned. Also Tullamore Dew is reopening their distillery soon

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)