Irish Distillers Debuts Newest Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach

| November 27, 2021

Irish Distillers recently introduced its fourth release in the Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach collection, an addition that significantly supports the conservation of oak woodlands as well as adding another important chapter for Irish whiskey.

For the fourth instalment of the Dair Ghaelach series, which translates simply as ‘Irish oak’, Midleton’s masters worked with the guardians of Kylebeg Wood on the Ballykilcavan Estate near Stradbally, County Laois, to carefully select the seven trees that would be used to create the virgin Irish oak hogsheads in which to mature what’s described as some of their most valuable whiskeys.

Master Distiller Kevin O’Gorman explained in a prepared statement that with each bottling traceable to a single tree, Midleton Very Rare Kylebeg Wood offers a range of seven whiskeys bottled at cask strengths ranging from 55.4%-56.1% ABV, “all with the hallmark inspiration of fragrant woodland spices and a heightened intensity of rich wood tannins that allow the influence of the Irish oak to linger on the palate until the very end.”

Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Kylebeg Wood

Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Kylebeg Wood (image via Irish Distillers)

He said that Irish Distillers’ partnership with Kylebeg Wood is the “ultimate example of how we are collaborating with Ireland’s forestry custodians to marry sustainable Irish oak with the highest standards in forestry practice and conservation, with some of the finest craftsmanship to be found anywhere in the world of whiskey.

Explaining the journey of the wood, O’Gorman said that once harvested from Kylebeg Wood, the resulting oak logs were separately packed and shipped to the Spanish region of Galicia and the Maderbar Sawmills in Barralla where, for more than 50 years, the same family has been working with wood.

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In Barralla, the oak was cut, using the craft of quarter sawing, before the resulting stave wood made the 10-hour journey from the sawmills to the Antonio Paez Lobato cooperage in Jerez, where they were laid out to dry naturally in the warmth of the Spanish sun.

“It took fifteen more months before these oak staves were ready to create 42 of the most special casks to be found anywhere in the world, each was then given a light toast to my own specifications before returning from Spain to be filled with a specially selected range of our finest Single Pot Still whiskeys, previously matured in American oak barrels for between 13 and 25 years,” O’Gorman said.

Nosed and tasted every month for a further 15 months, O’Gorman, Master Blender Billy Leighton, and Blender David McCabe kept watch over the barrels before the resulting liquid was seen as being ready.

The space created through the felling of the trees used to create Midleton Very Rare Kylebeg Wood hogsheads has allowed for a new generation of saplings to take their place in the canopy above.

This method of forest management, that is practiced in Kylebeg Wood, has contributed to the reappearance of the pine marten to the Laois countryside. This in turn has affected the alien grey squirrel and helped the native red squirrel, which had practically vanished from the local area.

“Situated amidst rolling fields of barley, the native Irish woodland on the Ballykilcavan Estate has been managed carefully and in tune with nature by the Walsh-Kemmis family for 13 generations, since 1639,” said Paddy Purser, forest manager and consultant, who worked closely with the Midleton team on the project.

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“Kylebeg Wood – or ‘An Choill Bheag’ in the Irish language – translates as ‘the little wood’, and it was in this little wood that native Irish oak was planted in 1820 to replace trees that were felled for shipbuilding during the Napoleonic Wars,” Purser explained. “Today, through an Irish Distillers sponsored monitoring system, we use a ‘close to nature’ forest management system in line with international best practice ensuring sustainable management of our majestic Irish oak.”

Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Kylebeg Wood distiller’s notes:

  • Nose: Fragrant woodland spices with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg to the fore accompanied by aromatic oils and dried, earthy undertones. The classic pot still spices build over time working in tandem with delicate hints of nectarine to create a zesty fruit note with light dustings of white pepper. Additional aromas of dairy fudge and vanilla with a rich nutty character further accentuate the sweet and savory nature of this complex whiskey.
  • Taste: Fortified by the Irish Oak, the pot still spices lead with a heightened intensity thanks to the rich wood tannins before subsiding to reveal velvety tones of caramel with sweet stewed apple and touches of orange peel. Dark chocolate with subtle notes of honeycomb and vanilla weave amongst the spices, fruits and oak adding further complexity and intrigue.
  • Finish: Long finish with the fruits and spices slowly fading, allowing the Irish Oak to linger until the very end.

Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Kylebeg Wood is available globally from Midleton for a suggested retail price of €310 per 70cl. 

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Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether...