Seven oaks were felled in Kylebeg Wood in 2015 for the virgin Irish oak hogsheads used in this fourth Dair Ghaelach release, part of a project dating back to 2008 uniting themes of biodiversity, sustainability, and traceability around Irish oak. Whiskeys matured for 13 to 25 years in first-fill and refill American oak bourbon barrels were finished in these lightly toasted Irish oak casks for 15 months, the open structure of the wood readily adding color and flavor to the single pot still whiskeys. Across the release, we found a spectrum of whiskey aromas but a consistency of caramel, fruit, and toffee flavors on the palate, with subtle differences in sweetness and spice.
Midleton Very Rare Dair Ghaelach Kylebeg Wood ReviewedMidleton Very Rare Dair Ghaleach Kylebeg Wood (Tree 5)92 points, 56%, $340 A delicious nose of heather honey, baked peach, dried apricot, fresh oak, and clotted cream on warm scones, with a twist of black pepper and ground ginger. The way the fruitiness breaks through the wall of ginger and pepper, enabling the baked peach, apple, sweet honey, and toffee to assert themselves is rather wonderful. Waves of sweetness and vanilla break over stone fruit, leaving a roasted coffee finish.—Jonny McCormickMidleton Very Rare Dair Ghaleach Kylebeg Wood (Tree 6)92 points, 55.4%, $340This one is all about the wood spices and oak up front, backed by runny caramel, banana split, lime zest, and cooking apple spices. The Irish oak spices run riotously, with flavors of vanilla, toffee, baked apple, and nougat settling down reluctantly once cosseted by the indulgent taste of banoffee pie and milk chocolate. More a lovable rogue than an outright troublemaker.—Jonny McCormickMidleton Very Rare Dair Ghaleach Kylebeg Wood (Tree 1)90 points, 55.6%, $340 An attractive nose of vanilla, fresh oak, butterscotch, lemon balm, bread crust, caramel, coconut, and dried banana places this example in the middle ground. Smooth on the taste buds with a continuity of flavors from sniff to swallow, there is honey, butterscotch, orange peel, soft oak, peppery spice, and stone fruits; it brings in vanilla and caramel and ends with notes of oak, spice, and dried fruit.—Jonny McCormickMidleton Very Rare Dair Ghaleach Kylebeg Wood (Tree 4)90 points, 56%, $340 An agreeable combination of crystalized honey, melon, and conference pear develops, with vanilla sponge cake, beeswax candles, cream soda, and light baking spices. The balance and contrast work well, highlighting gentle honeyed fruits, a strong vanilla flavor, dried fruits, and a surge in peppery spice. The latter phase comes close to Tree 2 in this release, with soothing mocha notes.—Jonny McCormickMidleton Very Rare Dair Ghaleach Kylebeg Wood (Tree 2)89 points, 56.1%, $340 Sweet toffee, whole lemon, rose-scented air freshener, black pepper, charred oak, crème anglaise, green apple, and a hint of spearmint. The palate is sweet too, showcasing an array of barley notes, caramel, cinnamon, and chocolate, developing more malty characteristics that draw in cocoa and notes of peppermint. The finish is gentle with cocoa with a soft oakiness.—Jonny McCormickMidleton Very Rare Dair Ghaleach Kylebeg Wood (Tree 7)89 points, 55.9%, $340 Steel yourself for a spicy encounter of cinnamon, cardamom, and seasoned oak spices, combining effortlessly with notes of walnut, vanilla, tropical fruits, blossom honey, and water biscuit. The flavors approach the cask-strength spicy summit with toffee, dried fruit, and apricot, followed by green melon, malted barley, and chocolate on the other side. Perfectly decent, but it occupies more familiar virgin oak territory than its contemporaries.—Jonny McCormickMidleton Very Rare Dair Ghaleach Kylebeg Wood (Tree 3)88 points, 56%, $340 Floral with a perfumed bouquet, the nose picks out creamy rice pudding, ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, fresh oak, caramel, and cotton candy. With a focus on fruity sweetness, vanilla fudge, and green apple notes, this peaks with clove-led spices and Red Vines, showing its high strength. As the sweetness wanes, it ends with red apple and vanilla on a short dry finish.—Jonny McCormick