Midleton Very Rare — The Arboreal Nectar of Kylebeg Wood

The Arboreal Nectar of
Kylebeg Wood


Four ancient forests. Seven carefully chosen trees. A multitude of stories immemorial, given voice by way of cask and dram.

Midleton – one of the world’s most revered makers of whiskey – have gone about their aging process in perhaps the most enchanting way we’ve yet witnessed. Their new range is called Dair Ghaelach, which means quite simply ‘Irish Wood’. Undertaken six years back, the distillers at Midleton set about sourcing native Irish woodlands that could be harnessed in sustainable ways, as well as each possessing enough individual character to convey unforgettable flavour expressions.

The virgin oak selected for each release influences this special whiskey with the true and unique flavour of Ireland; its provenance told in each sublime sip. So far, Grinsell’s Wood, Bluebell Forest and Knockrath Forest have been explored, heard and transcribed into single pot still whiskey and now we move onto the fourth chapter of this arboreal saga – the tale of Kylebeg Wood.

Kevin O’Gorman, Master Distiller, Midleton Distillery



Kevin O’Gorman, Master Distiller, Midleton Distillery

Known as ‘An Choill Bheag’ in the Irish language (which translates to ‘the little wood’) it was here that native Irish oak was planted in 1820 to replace trees that were felled for shipbuilding during the Napoleonic Wars. Kylebeg is a sacred place of rekindled hope after the decimation of war – a pain shared by humankind and the forestry alike. It was clear that Master Distiller Kevin O’ Gorman had to apply a nigh-on invisible touch to commission the seven trees required.

Kylebeg Wood has been managed carefully and in tune with nature by the Walsh-Kemmis family for thirteen generations since 1639. Midleton worked closely with the woodland’s custodians so ensure the natural balance was preserved. The space created through the felling of the trees used to create the latest Dair Ghaelach expression has allowed light to once again meet the forest floor. Now a new generation of saplings, planted following the felling, rise to take their place in the canopy above. This method of forest management has contributed to the reappearance of the pine marten to the Laois countryside, which in turn has turned the tide in the ongoing genocide of the native red squirrel at the hands of their invasive grey counterparts.

Seven trees are selected from the woodland – each one denoting its own flavour story and cask strength. Once harvested from Kylebeg Wood, the resulting oak logs were separately packed and shipped to the Spanish region of Galicia where they were cut and laid out to dry naturally in the Spanish sun. It took fifteen more months before these oak staves were ready to create 42 casks. Each was then given a light toasting before returning from Spain to be filled with a specially selected range of Single Pot Still whiskeys, previously matured in American oak barrels for between thirteen to twenty-five years.



“The first Single Pot Still Irish whiskey to be matured in Irish oak from County Laois, Midleton Very Rare Kylebeg Wood is as individual as it is irresistible and a whiskey that is as satisfyingly Irish as it is undeniably elegant.”

_ Kevin O’ Gorman, Master Distiller, Midleton Distillery

Tasting Notes


Fragrant woodland spices with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg to the fore accompanied by aromatic oils and earthy pot still notes. Delicate hints of nectarine develop to create a zesty fruit note with dustings of white pepper. Additional aromas of dairy fudge and vanilla further accentuate the sweet nature of the whiskey.


Fortified by the Irish Oak, the pot still spices lead with a heightened intensity thanks to the rich wood tannins before subsiding to reveal velvety tones of caramel with sweet-stewed apple and touches of orange peel. Dark chocolate with subtle notes of honeycomb and vanilla weave amongst the spices.


Delightfully long finish with the fruits and spices slowly fading, allowing the Irish Oak to linger until the very end.

Nosed and tasted every month for a further fifteen months, O’Gorman, Master Blender Billy Leighton, and Blender David McCabe kept a vigilant watch on the barrels before the resulting liquid was deemed to have struck a perfect balance with Midleton’s hallmark Single Pot Still character.

The allocation for Kylebeg Wood Tree 1 has already been purchased, with Tree 2 available from mid-December and Trees 3-7 available from early 2022.

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