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.
Nose: Bright tinned and candied fruits – apricot, peach and pineapple chunks – together with orange juice, wood lacquer and polish. Dusty pot spices emerge with nutmeg, pepper and well-sheened older oak surfaces. In the background, backed buns and rolled pasty sweetness. Reduction adds some biscuity notes alongside coconut macaroons, but is overall a less expressive experience.
Taste: Spice-forward with animated ginger, pepper and anise combined with stone fruits, and scattering of red berries. The mid-palate offers much more overt woodiness with drying, tannic oakiness shifting towards polish, alongside chocolate shavings, burnt toffee and vanilla essence. The addition of water soften up the spicing, but similarly to the effect on the nose results in a more of muddle of flavours, that the precise discernment that was possible before.
Finish: Medium with drying oakiness, cake mix, persistent pepper and char.
Tree 4 of the Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Knockrath Forest series is not only a mouthful to pronounce, it’s a mouthful of intense, spice-forward flavours. There’s wood driven depths here, which for the most part feel well-integrated – but at the same time, there are moments when the more elegant, fruit-driven notes start to get lost within the forceful casking. Tree 4 is one of the more powerful examples in the series - there’s a lovely polish on the note, which extends into the back-palate, but at the same time, dilution isn’t hugely well received. Entirely comparable to the other trees in the series – and yet my least favourite side-by-side.