Irish Distillers has unveiled Midleton Dair Ghaelach Bluebell Forest Edition, the newest release in its Virgin Irish Oak Collection of Single Pot Still Irish Whiskeys.
This expression matured in American oak Bourbon casks and finished in barrels made from Irish oak grown in the Bluebell Forest of Castle Blunden Estate in County Kilkenny.
Dair Ghaelach, which is Gaelic for ‘Irish oak’, is the result of an eight-year exploration by the production team at the Midleton Distillery, County Cork, into using native oak to finish Irish whiskey. It follows the release of Midleton Dair Ghaelach Grinsell’s Wood in February 2015.
In collaboration with 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 felled in the Bluebell Forest in May of 2013, the company says.
Workers at the Maderbar sawmills in Baralla, north-west Spain, cut the trees into staves to craft the oak into barrels to be sent 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 toast.
The whiskey, made of a selection of Midleton’s pot still distillates matured between 12 and 23 years in American oak barrels, then finished into the Irish oak Hogshead casks. After a year and a half, the whiskey reached “the perfect balance between the spicy single pot still Irish whiskey and Irish oak characteristics,” the company says.
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 in the U.S. at the recommended selling price of $299.99 per 750-ml. bottle.