Dair Ghaelach – The New Big Investment?

Dair Ghaelach (which means “Irish oak” in Irish) is the new release from the Midleton pot still range. A premium pot still release that has been matured for 15-22 years in ex bourbon casks finished in virgin Irish oak for ten months.

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This is the first time in a very long time that Irish Oak has been used to finish Irish Whiskey so this is most certainly an interesting release. Ten oak trees were felled from Ballaghtobin Estate in Co. Kilkenny, from here the trees were numbered and sent to Spain to be quarter sawn into staves before being made into 48 unique Irish oak barrels. They are then medium toasted before being shipped back to Cork to be filled and rest until the premium spirit is ready. The distillate was tasted once a week, every week to ascertain whether or not the whiskey had reached its finishing point, after the ten month mark it had completed it’s journey. Bottled at cask strength and individually numbered by batch, bottle and more importantly tree they are now on sale for €260 in Ireland. Each tree having its own affect on the final taste of the whiskey so every release has its own characteristics. The general tones are well balanced, subtly flavoured with chocolate, caramel and toasted notes complementing the Irish oak tones very well.

There have been several exciting releases from IDL in recent years with their pot still Midleton range; Midleton Pearl, Midleton 30 and Barry Crockett legacy to name a few, but none have had the individualism that these individually numbered releases have in Dair Ghaelach.

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Having a complete collection of Midleton very rare back from the initial release in 1984 increases the total value than just the sum of its individual parts, boasting a juicy price tag of €50,000 on the second hand market. The word on the street is that IDL are pegging this new release as the next big investment. They are releasing this line tree by tree as not to flood the market all at once, apparently. Already they are seeing collectors rushing to purchase each new tree as it has been released in an apparent bid to compile a complete set. At a whopping €2,340 for the nine bottles (supposedly the tenth tree was used for parts where needed), it is true that very few will even be able to compile the full collection but will there be the high end desirability for this whiskey down the line? Midleton Very Rare investment has paid dividends after 30 years. This could be some long game investment that not every Joe bloggs could afford. Although, this seems to be a major talking point of the new release and perhaps these premonitions of increased desirability due to a complete set will come true, who knows for certain.

But with large distilleries all over Ireland and the word putting out limited releases on almost a monthly basis will the Dair Ghaelach stick it’s head above the parapet and become an icon like the Very Rare range before it? I’m cautiously doubtful, at its ultra-premium price point but that’s just the opinion of this man.

That said, this does not detract from the ingenuity that this represents coming from IDL. Adapting for the ever evolving Irish Whiskey market, showing the world that we can create premium, delicious whiskey that is not simply a combination of ex-bourbon and ex oloroso sherry casks we see so often. IDL are doing great things and I look forward to seeing the Dair Ghaelach fight for its place in the big leagues and perhaps see a close relative make its way from Midleton sometime soon if it does!

Whether or not sinking your wages into this new project from Midleton I am very excited to see for myself first hand what the new Irish oak finish evokes on the taste buds and also what other interesting ideas Ger Buckley and the other four masters in Midleton come up with in this new spirit of innovation (no pun intended).

So all that remains is to ask…. Do You think that all nine trees are worth collecting? Am I way off the ball here? Or perhaps you might fight my corner with me? Either way I’d love to hear opinions on the matter so comment and let me know!

New Green Spot on the horizon

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So summer is in the air and as is a brand new release from Irish Distillers and Mitchell and Sons! Green Spot finished in Bordeaux wine casks! Supposedly chosen due to their long history with the Irish, the Chateau Leoville Barton! 

(check out the background info on Barton here http://www.donnybrookfair.ie/files/pdf/history_of_barton_guestier.pdf)

The launch of this new Green Spot will be approx. June 2/3rd this year in Bordeaux. Extremely exciting for fans of Irish whiskey not only because of the new flavours that will be presented with the traditional pot still spices but the fact that IDL generally don’t release special finish bottlings, rather preferring to release entirely new lines instead. This in itself will make for some exciting news, keeping an eye to see if IDL have opened their doors to new innovations, something which will hopefully become abundant as this Irish whiskey renaissance matures. 

The word on the street is that this is targeted at the U.S. market but it has already been spotted in catelogues for the French market so hopefully we will see these lining our shelves in Europe mid June as well. 

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I don’t know about you but I am extremely excited to see exactly what this tastes like myself but for now I will have to make due with just the tasting notes! 

Nose: French oak, crispy woodland notes which lend themselves to the spicy pot still character. The wine seasoning brings a delicate touch of floral perfume and ripe berries such as raspberries and strawberries, they are in addition to the orchard fruits of the traditional green spot flavours.

Palate: the familiar mouth coating effect is a very satisfying balance of oak and spices. Some vanilla sweetness works in harmony with the dry wine influence, while the fresh orchard fruits and French oak combine effortlessly with the barley grains to complete the complexity.

Finish: the rich French oak character is slow to fade leaving the wine and spices of France and Ireland with the last word.

Irish Times Bushmills Blunder

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So today I found myself flicking through the Irish Times business section and I was greeted with a quick caption article (see picture above) about how, drinks giant, Diageo had just purchased Bushmills distillery in Northern Ireland for £200million. A bargain basement price considering that they just sold, the same, Bushmills distillery to tequila giants Jose Cuervo at the beginning of the new year for a reported £400million plus majority stake in a mid range tequila brand.

If this article were true Diageo would have just pulled off the world’s quickest £200million profit making scheme the drinks industry may have ever seen!

After some minor digging into the background of this peculiar story I realised that this is in-fact a direct copy and paste article from April 25th 2005. An article published in the Irish Times after the acquisition of Bushmills by Diageo from Pernod Ricard/Irish Distillers.

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Further browsing revealed, what appears to be, the intended article for today’s print edition of the Times, posted on their website claiming that Jose Cuervo are now selling $500million in bonds to finance their recent purchase of this famous Irish whiskey distillery.

Congrats to whatever night editor managed to throw together a lovely half article about Bushmills some…. ten years late to the party.

I’m starting to to think I should read the times more often!