Midleton Knockrath Forest Collection One to Seven Trees
The story of Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach, which translates as ‘Irish oak’, began over a decade ago when the Midleton Masters, ever keen to innovate and create unique and exemplary whiskeys, decided to explore the possibility of maturing Irish whiskey in native oak. Midleton’s talented team, led by Master of Maturation Kevin O’Gorman, Master Cooper Ger Buckley and Master Blender Billy Leighton, set out to source sustainable Irish oak from estates throughout Ireland to produce a series of whiskeys, each with their own individual history and taste profile, that could be traced back to the specific tree from which the oak cask was made.
For the third edition, the Midleton team selected the Knockrath estate in the ancient Vale of Clara where the oak has grown for more than 150 years amidst the landscape of mountains and lakes. Known for its cool summers and heavy rainfall, the climate of County Wicklow impacts the density and porosity of the oak. This, in addition to a lighter toasting of the wood and unique combination of distillates, results in subtle flavour differences between Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest and its predecessors, Dair Ghaelach Grinsell’s Wood and Dair Ghaelach Bluebell Forest.
Once felled, the carefully harvested trees were shipped to the Maderbar sawmills in Baralla, north-west Spain, where they were traditionally quarter-sawn into staves for barrel manufacturing and transferred to the Antonio Páez Lobato cooperage in Jerez. After a 15-month drying process, the staves were worked into barrels and given a light toasting before returning to Ireland. Back at Midleton Distillery, the virgin oak casks were filled with Irish pot still whiskeys ranging in age from 13-26 years.
Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest is bottled at cask strength, ranging from 56.1% – 56.6% ABV, giving drinkers the opportunity to taste Irish whiskey almost directly from Irish oak. The native wood contributes notes of caramel, fruits, vanilla and chocolate for a smooth and robust whiskey.
Nose: Pot still spices are accentuated by the Irish oak contribution, adding waves of toasted wood with hints of vanilla and roasted coffee, layered over fresh fruit which evolves from orchard fruits to tropical notes.
Taste: Classic pot still spices give a luscious texture to the fore, while the influence of the Irish oak adds a medley of sweet notes including chocolate and honeycomb.
Finish: Remarkably long finish with fruit and spices fading to allow the Irish oak to have the final say.