Savour the ‘subtle differences’ of Midleton Very Rare’s new whiskey collection

Aged in virgin Irish oak in Wicklow, Dair Ghaelach comprises seven different releases

Midleton Very Rare recently released the third editions of Dair Ghaelach, its collection of whiskies aged in virgin Irish oak. This time the whiskey is matured in casks made from mature oak trees felled on the Knockrath estate in the Vale of Clara, Co Wicklow, owned by the Brabazon family. The felling was licensed by the Irish Forest Service in compliance with their Best Forest Practice.

The trees were shipped to Galicia in Spain to be sawn into staves, and then transported to a cooper in Jerez, where they were seasoned for 15 months and lightly toasted before being returned to Ireland.

A total of 42 casks were made from seven trees. These were filled with a blend of 15- to 28-year-old Single Pot Still whiskey. Two years later, master of maturation Kevin O’Gorman and master blender Billy Leighton decided they were ready for bottling.

“In our first two releases there were subtle differences between each tree, and likewise here, we found perceptible differences. Even the colour is different; tree number one and number five ended up a much darker mahogany shade than the others. Trees six and three are slightly lighter in colour from the rest.


Coconut and chocolate notes

“With the Knockrath, the differences in taste between trees are still subtle, but I think more marked than before.” O’Gorman says.

“It is amazing given that all seven trees were grown in the one forest area. For instance, trees two and six have enhanced toffee, coconut and chocolate [notes], compared to the others.”

This forest is in Wicklow, whereas the first two releases were both from Kilkenny. The soil, topography and altitude make for a great difference in the porosity and density in the oak.

O’Gorman wouldn’t be drawn on a favourite. “They are all great,” he says. But he points out that there are seven different releases – one to enjoy every day of the week. Bottled at cask strength – 56.1-56.6% abv, Dair Ghaelach is available for €310-€320 from O’Briens, Celtic Whiskey, Mulligan Whiskey Store and other whiskey specialists.