I recently got invited along to the lavish 5* Merchant Hotel in Belfast, by Joe Magowan & Whiskey Club for a tasting of the new Midleton, Dair Ghaelach (Irish for Irish Oak), Bluebell Forest, along with a small number of fellow whiskey devotees. Now I’m not best for reading full emails or taking in all the details, so when you rock up to the tasting wondering “what tree from the range will we be trying..?” to find out its all 6! (It said so in the email, whoops) This meaning we were some of the first people in the world to try all 6. Bingo! Jackpot!
A little info on Dair Ghaelach to get us started.
The original release of Dair Ghaelach used 30 year old oak trees from Grinsell’s Wood, within the Ballaghtobin Estate in Co. Kilkenny, making it the first Irish whiskey to be finished in virgin Irish Oak for 100+ years. This latest release used 6 trees from the Bluebell Forest in Castle Blunden Estate, County Kilkenny. Midleton made sure the project was completely sustainable with the trees being felled in accordance with the Irish Forest Service.
After felling, Midleton sent the trees to Galicia, Spain, for the magic to be done and turned into casks. Staves sent to Antonio Paez Lobato cooperage in Jerez where they were dried for 15 months in the Spanish sunshine then given a light to medium toast before being turned into 29, 240 litre hogshead casks. Filled with 12-23 year old pot still whiskeys back in Ireland, which had previously been matured in American oak (refill & first fill). Finally some days and hours later (19 months) it was given the green light to be bottled.
Now I’ve only ever tried a drop or two of the previous Dair Ghaelach range but never enough to fully take in how good it is reported to be. I got the sense from the get-go it was going to be a night to remember.
I’m going to hold my hands up here, I had the best intentions on making notes to use in this blog and that’s what I done at the start, but that fairly went out the window soon after as I was enjoying myself too much.
It was a very informal tasting with Joe opening up the room for us all to voice our thoughts in a general discussion, which worked rather well. We were all in agreement that each tree had a fairly noticeable difference in colour and a significantly different flavour profile between many of them from light to heavy spice, dried to dark fruits, dark chocolate to creamy white buttons, cinnamon & cloves everyone got something a little different but nothing too strange.Safe to say, everyone had a favourite bottle, mine being Tree 3. For me it just worked splendidly. Light in the mouth with that perfect level of spice, an array of fruits with a charmingly warm finish. Bottled at cask strength DO NOT put even the tiniest amount of water in, we tried & tested it with an outcome of a killed flavour profile.
For once I didn’t take many photos, so with thanks here are some images from Joe Magowan & Whiskey Club.
Photo credits – Joe Magowan – Irish Whiskey Ambassador and Whiskey Club.
Original image gallery here Whiskey Club – Facebook.
A top night in good company which has now led to me trying to track down a bottle of Tree 3.
Until next time, keep safe & keep drinking whisk(e)y responsibly.
Over & out.
Jamie. Whiskey JAC