An Irish whiskey that can trace its flavor to one tree

Eight years ago, the production team at Midleton Distillery in County Cork, Ireland, set out to experiment with finishing techniques featuring toasted virgin Irish oak casks. Midleton’s team—led by Kevin O’Gorman, the distillery’s head of maturation, and Billy Leighton, head blender—conjectured that the source of an oak cask, specifically the region from which the wood was forested—even the individual tree that produced the barrel’s staves—could inject unique personality into an Irish whiskey much the same way that a vineyard’s location impacts the flavor of a wine produced by its grapes.

In 2015, Midleton unveiled its first Dair Ghaelach release (Dair Ghaelach means “Irish oak” in Gaelic), a whiskey that was finished in casks made from oak trees that were sourced from Grinsell’s Wood, a forest in County Kilkenny. This winter, a second installment—Midleton Dair Ghaelach Bluebell Forest Edition—has reached retailers’ shelves.


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