Whiskey Review: Midleton Dair Ghaelach Irish Whiskey - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Midleton Dair Ghaelach Irish Whiskey

Midleton Dair GhaelachIreland’s Midleton is one of the three main remaining Irish whiskey behemoths, and one of the most influential. With distillation operations beginning in 1825, Midleton’s history is long and rich. Incorporated with John Jameson and John Powers in the ‘60s to form the Irish Distillers Group, Midleton represents and produces quite a fair amount of the Irish whiskey we know and love. Spanning multiple distilleries, Midleton and the Irish Distillers Group give us classic Irish drams such as Powers, Redbreast, Jameson, Paddy’s, and Green Spot.

With such a diversity of whiskies ranging from classic to outstanding, Midleton has a reliable portfolio to be sure. The introduction of Midleton Dair Ghaelach, however, goes beyond the expected and in many ways is a triumph for Irish whiskey. Once the largest producer of whiskey in the world, Ireland has a considerable amount to offer to the whiskey drinking community.

The use of native Irish oak in the production of Dair Ghaelach is also a triumph, considering the decimation of Irish forests by Queen Elizabeth I for the production of warships. A similar story can be told about much of Scotland’s forested land as well. A further history of oak as it relates to Dair Ghaelach can be found on on their website..

A blend of 15 to 22-year-old triple pot distilled Irish whiskies aged in ex-bourbon casks, Dair Ghaelach is then finished for a year in estate-sourced virgin Irish oak sourced from local Grinsell’s Wood forest on Ballaghtobin Estate in County Kilkenny (about a two hour drive from Midleton). This makes Dair Ghaelach the first-ever Irish whiskey to be aged for any amount of time in native Irish Oak.

As we wrote when Dair Ghaelach was first released, its accolades and achievements are many, so why has it been pigeonholed into simply “Best Irish Whiskey” categories, when it is miles past certain “Whiskey of the Year” selections we shall not mention here.

As I tasted through this whiskey, it became abundantly clear to me that it was one of the most complex and perfectly delicious whiskies I’ve tried, period. While I am also no Jim Murray, I cannot help but wonder if perhaps even the best reviewers in the world get it twisted sometimes.

Tasting Notes

Vitals: The edition of Dair Ghaelach I tasted was Batch Number 1, Tree Number 1, Bottle Number 246. Triple pot distilled, and non-chill filtered, this whiskey clocks in at 57.9% ABV (its cask strength). Its mash bill is a blend of malted and unmalted barley.

Appearance: Dair Ghaelch is a rich, orangey caramel in color.

Nose: Up front on the nose is new oak and a touch of ethanol, likely attributed to the higher proof. Chocolate orange, espresso, and cream blossom through the ethanol tinge. Warm wildflower honey rounds its edges. The nose has a lovely, bold interplay between chocolate, coffee, and orange. After opening for a short time, yeasty bread dough, specifically sourdough starter, comes through, followed by charcoal, very sweet oak, and orange blossom water.

Palate: Immediately incredibly creamy on the palate, Dair Ghaelach has a slight proof burn, but only briefly. The creamy, soft mouthfeel plays into the flavor of heavy cream and orange foam. Creamy, sweet, and citrusy on the front of the palate, the dram transforms into an earthy, complex mixture of coffee grounds, sweet orange, oak char, and overwhelming tobacco leaf. The finish goes from deeply intense tobacco leaf to a lingering sweet cream and coffee effect that seems to go on forever. Very satisfying.


Earthy, creamy, and complex, Dair Ghaelach is a fully developed dram, and a whiskey that tastes the drinker through a journey. This whiskey was a delight to drink, and leaps and bounds above the majority of whiskies I’ve tasted in recent history. Dair Ghaelach could surely convert any serious whisk(e)y drinker out there to the world of Irish whiskey.



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