Irish Distillers has unveiled the next chapter in its Virgin Irish Oak Collection of Single Pot Still Irish Whiskeys; Midleton Dair Ghaelach Bluebell Forest edition. This exceptional offering has been finished in barrels made from Irish oak grown in the Bluebell Forest of Castle Blunden Estate in County Kilkenny, imparting a true and unique flavor of Ireland.
Dair Ghaelach, which is Gaelic for ‘Irish oak’, is the result of an eight-year exploration by the expert production team at the Midleton Distillery, County Cork, into using native oak to mature Irish whiskey and follows the release of Midleton Dair Ghaelach Grinsell’s Wood in February 2015.
In collaboration with expert forestry consultant, Paddy Purser, the Irish Distillers team of Kevin O’Gorman, Head of Maturation, and Billy Leighton, Head Blender, chose Bluebell Forest on Castle Blunden Estate to provide the oak for the second edition in the Midleton Dair Ghaelach series. Each bottle can be traced back to one of six individual 130-year-old oak trees that were carefully felled in the Bluebell Forest in May of 2013.
Kevin O’Gorman, Head of Maturation at Midleton Distillery, comments: “It is a joy to be able to showcase more of our experimentation with maturation in Irish oak through the release of Midleton Dair Ghaelach Bluebell Forest. The naturally sweet compounds found in Irish oak work in perfect harmony with this whiskey to deliver milk chocolate and honeycomb on the nose, a beautifully round and silky-smooth mouth feel and a long, pot still finish.
“The nuances in flavour in the two editions of Midleton Dair Ghaelach come from our native wood, and offer whiskey fans a true flavour of Ireland – the range has provenance unlike any Irish whiskey before it and we look forward to exploring more of Ireland’s woodlands further in the years to come.”
Bluebell Forest is found among the historic stone walls of Castle Blunden Estate in County Kilkenny. Since the 1600s, generations of the Blunden Family have watched over a stand of Irish oak trees with a carpet of luminescent bluebells covering the forest floor. The carefully felled oak from these woods imparts its character and nuances into Midleton Dair Ghaelach Bluebell Forest to create an intrinsically Irish whiskey with historical provenance, traceability and a clear link to the sustainability and rejuvenation of Irish oak.
To craft the oak into barrels, fellow artisans at the Maderbar sawmills in Baralla, north-west Spain, used the quarter-sawing process to cut the trees into staves, which were then transferred to the Antonio Páez Lobato cooperage in Jerez. After drying for 15 months, the staves were worked into 29 Irish oak Hogshead casks and given a light toast.
The whiskey, made up of a selection of Midleton’s classic rich and spicy pot still distillates matured for between 12 and 23 years in American oak barrels, was then filled into the Irish oak Hogshead casks and diligently nosed and tasted each month by Leighton and O’Gorman. After a year and a half, the pair judged that the whiskey had reached the perfect balance between the spicy single post still Irish whiskey and Irish oak characteristics.
Bottled at cask strength, between 55.30% to 56.30% ABV, and without the use of chill filtration, Midleton Dair Ghaelach Bluebell Forest is available from November 2017 in markets, including the US, Canada, Ireland, France and the UK at the recommended selling price of $280 per 70cl.