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.
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.
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!
I’d be a whiskeys for drinking – not collecting person myself -and at that price I’m not sure I’d even get a sniff! However – with the growth of Irish whiskey in general – there is probably a market for ultra premium products. I would wonder what taste profile would be gained by using Irish oak – but it’s the idea that counts at that level. Connemara did the bog oak release a few years ago which was also very unique.
If you have the money and you have the love of whiskey, then perhaps it is indeed a good idea to purchase a bottle from each individual tree.
Personally, I’d be looking to have a bottle from each forest as it is released. Some oak species may vary, depending on the forest. We can’t confirm this until release date of course.
Nonetheless, this is a hugely interesting release for Irish whiskey lovers and I think these expressions will prove very popular for collectors.
My vote? Always prefer enjoying vs collecting. There is something decidedly off about preserving Irish whiskies which – if there is any common thread – are generally quite ‘sociable’ lubricating tall tales and merriment. While an interesting niche product so far beyond my price range that any vote is moot as will never have an opportunity to sample!