Composed of single pot still whiskies aged between 13 and 26 years that were originally matured in ex-bourbon American oak casks before being married together and then filled into seven individual Irish oak cask sourced from Knockrath Forest in County Wicklow for two years of additional maturation. Available from earlier this year in selected markets (Ireland, UK, US, France and China) for an RRP of €310. Or if you’re feeling bold, the entire set of seven bottlings for €2,170 via The Celtic Whiskey Shop – for absolutely no discount on the RRP, but less buggering around trying to find all of the bottles to complete the series.
Nose: Immediate rich and aromatic spices – nutmeg, allspice and dusty gingerbread. These sit with dried stone fruits, mango slices and tart green apple. Café latte, tonka beans and split vanilla pods are joined by lightly toasted oak –which is ubiquitous throughout. Reduction results in a warmer, less spice-centric nose – apple turnovers and apricot flans alongside orange juice, rich custard and background polished oak surfaces.
Taste: Bold and bringing the spiced style of the nose into the palate – nutmeg, soft ginger, anise and pepper alongside a combination of orchard and tropical fruits – apples, pears and mango. Burnt toffee and drying oak form the mid-palate and sit alongside shaved chocolate. Water pushes the fruits to the fore and softens the experience – apricot, dragonfruit and kiwi – all juicy and tinned.
Finish: Medium to long with drying oakiness firmly in charge. Pepper and fruit salad lingering into a fade.
Tree 1 of the Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest series presents an expressive and impactful combination of cask spices with underlying fruity distillate. It’s more than a hop and a jump from the perceptions of Irish whiskey being all about softness and ease. There’s plenty to unpick here and whilst the spice is a little too forward for my personal taste, the experience is nevertheless quite distinctive. It responds to dilution well, bringing forward many of fruitier elements that fans of the category will no doubt be looking for.