Technically Midleton’s Dair Ghaelach Grinsell Wood (Tree 9) was the first super premium bottle of whiskey which I purchased, and the one which started me down the slippery slope of collecting Irish whiskey.
I had always had a passing interest in Irish whiskey, and dabbled in the more “cost effective” end of buying, tasting and drinking. But after a fantastic tour of the Midleton Distillery with my father in law about 4 years ago, I decided to treat him to a measure of something special – basically I was trying to get in his good books as I was planning to propose to his daughter later that year.
So I approached the barman, handed over my credit card, and dropped the dram at the table. He wouldn’t have previously tried anything at that end of the scale (the same can’t be said for wine), but when he nosed the glass and sipped just a drop, I swear I’ve never seen his eyes widen more at any time before or after.
“Oh, thats just heavenly” he said as he passed it to me to have a try. I couldn’t challenge him. It was simply superb.
While my palette has since evolved towards preferring punchier jammy cask strengths like the single casks from redbreast – my original opinion of the Dair Ghaelach still stood true when I tried it again recently.
But we were so impressed with the dram, we both ended up buying a bottle on out (along with a cask strength black barrel). A costly excursion!
I never had any intention to complete the set. Who in their right mind would spend 9 x €280! plus, I was acutely aware of the fact that Tree 1 was a unicorn only available in the States, along with tree 6 & 8. That just sounded like a lot of expensive effort.
But sure enough I found myself in New York two years later, and one night while googling liquor stores in the area, I happened upon a bottle for sale in New Jersey…. on sale… for $180. The image wasn’t clear, so I emailed them asking the tree number (expecting it to be one of the more common Tree 6 or 8). To my surprise however, they confirmed it was Tree 1, and they had one in stock.
There was only one problem. I was staying in Mid-town Manhatten, and the liquor store was located in Phillipsburg, New Jersey – a good 90 minute drive away – if I had a car, or a driver’s license with me.
But then my wife proved to me again as to why she is one of the special ones……”I’ll drive – we’ll make an adventure out of it”. And that we did.
The next morning, we popped down to our local AVIS, hired a terrible car and hit the road, fully expecting to arrive and to find either no bottle, or a bottle with the wrong tree number.
But sure enough, when I arrived, there it was, covered in dust, and in the hands of an assistant who thought I was an absolution moron for driving 90 mins from NYC to collect a bottle of whiskey. When I explained (post purchase) that the $180 dollars I had just spent on a bottle, was now worth $1500+ (at the time). Her face dropped. “Now I get it”
Even then I wasn’t planning on finishing the set, but I came across the rest of the bottles quite easily, and at reasonable prices – and before I knew it, I had all the bottles lined up side by side. So when the 2nd set was released (Bluebell Wood), I got them all in one go – super easy. (FYI, Trees 1 & 2 of the Bluebell are the most scare, but both US & Europe received a consignment of all the trees (unlike the GW)
For those not familiar with the brand, Dair Ghaelach translates as “Irish Oak” and was an experimental series from Midleton. Those familiar with the whiskey making process know that a majority of this nations spirit is matured in ex-bourbon American oak casks – largely due to the limited availability of Irish Oak which the country was once covered in.
To be clear however – the whiskey hasn’t spent its entire life in the Irish Oak, only the last year (from my understanding), with the juice largely matured in ex bourbon casks for between 15-25 years (Grinsell Wood) or 12-23 years for the 2nd release (Bluebell Wood), which has a far better presentation and only 6 tree’s (far easier to collect).
So – what are they worth? Well, have a look at the table below. The hardest part of course is the acquisition of Tree 1 of the Grinsell Wood. If you can find it, or even find someone willing to part with one, the rest of the set should be easy enough to come by. What you’ll see too is that if you’re able to secure the bottles at the lower estimates, you’ll be in for a nice “set completion” bump in value.
Through contacts, I believe the next release of the Dair Ghaelachs are coming out late Autumn, but alas a direct request from IDL has proved fruitless (i’m nowhere near important enough to have an actual relationship with these people!) Sufficed to say, I’m a huge fan of the Dair Ghaelachs though – so forgetting the intrinsic value of the liquid, all the trees I have tasted have been delicious – so are definitely one to grab if the wallet allows! Or I suspect there will be some on offer at Whiskey Live!
Thanks again to all of you for your continuing support – I hope you’re still finding these blogs of use. As always, please follow on whichever of the below platforms you’re on for little nuggets here than there. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.