Midleton adds third whiskey to Dair Ghaelach series

Irish Distillers has unveiled the third whiskey in its Dair Ghaelach collection – Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest.

The new release was finished for two years in casks made from virgin Irish oak grown in Knockrath Forest, County Wicklow. Bottled at cask strength between 56.1% ABV and 56.6% ABV, Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest is available to purchase in Ireland, the UK, France, the US and China at an RRP of €310 (around US$342) per 700ml. Tasting notes include aromas of toasted wood, vanilla, roasted coffee and fresh fruit, leading to flavours of spices, chocolate and honeycomb on the palate. The finish is said to be full of fruit and spices. Master blender Billy Leighton said: “It’s an honour to present the latest edition in the Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach collection. Truly a taste of Ireland, the barley, water, oak and indeed craftspeople at the heart of this expression are all home-grown, making us extremely proud to share this latest expression in the Midleton story with the world.” The idea behind the Dair Ghaelach series, which translates as ‘Irish oak’, began more than 10 years ago and aims to explore the impact of finishing whiskeys in Irish oak. A team, led by master of maturation Kevin O’Gorman, master cooper Ger Buckley and Leighton, have been tasked with searching for sustainable Irish oak from estates across Ireland, in order to produce a whiskey series that would enable the consumer to trace the liquid back to the specific tree used to make the cask. For the third expression, the Midleton team selected the Knockrath estate in Vale of Clara, where oak has grown for more than 150 years, overseen by the Brabazon family, who has looked after Knockrath Forest since the 16th century. The felled trees were shipped to Maderbar sawmills in Baralla, northwest Spain, where they were transformed into staves. The staves were left for 15 months to dry before being lightly toasted, assembled into casks at the Antonio Páez cooperage in Jerez, and then shipped back to Ireland. Once back at the Midleton Distillery, the casks were filled with Irish pot still whiskeys aged between 13 and 26 years, which were left to mature for an additional two years. O’Gorman added: “Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest is an amazing 150-year journey from Knockrath Forest to bottle and one we’re proud to be part of. “Traceability and sustainability are at the heart of this whiskey and, until we started this project, Irish oak had not been used to mature whiskey for well over 100 years. “Today, thanks to sustainable practices, we can harvest small volumes and trace each bottle right back to the very oak tree that helped to create it. This has, in turn, fostered an awareness and appreciation among whiskey lovers that there is even a subtle difference between trees which contributes to a whiskey’s unique flavour.” The first two expressions in the series were Dair Ghaelach Grinsell’s Wood and Dair Ghaelach Bluebell Forest.