The Midleton Very Rare Forêt de Tronçais whiskey story began in 2017 with Master Distiller Kevin O’Gorman and his team from Midleton Distillery embarking on a cask procurement trip to the Tronçais forest in France. However we should first jump back to the 1900’s, to a time when the Irish whiskey industry was thriving and then ran into a perfect storm of problems including the Irish War of Independence and prohibition in the US, which brought Irish whiskey to its knees.
A New Era In Irish Whiskey Production
This could have marked the end of the story for Irish whiskey, but doggedness and finest craftsmanship won out and ultimately spawned a new era in Irish whiskey production. And at the forefront was the most outstanding of all – Midleton Very Rare, boasting finest raw materials, the most advanced techniques and a dedicated team of craftspeople, resulting in the pinnacle of excellence in Irish whiskey.
Fast-forward to 2023 and Ape to Gentleman were invited to Cognac in France to witness Midleton Very Rare’s continued ascent in the pursuit of excellence. The October weather shone warmly at around 30ºC as we checked into the delightful Hotel Chais Monnet & Spa – our base for the next two days.
Forêt de Tronçais Oak And Taransaud Cooperage
Our first stop on the Midleton Very Rare Forêt de Tronçais whiskey journey was Taransaud Cooperage – famed for their production of rare and sought-after T5 oak casks – renowned for their fine grain and delicate flavours, sure to add a new dimension to the subtle aromatics in the renowned Midleton Very Rare Irish whiskey family. Our tour of the cooperage was conducted by Jacquelin de Pracomtal, Vice President at Taransaud – where we quickly learned why they are world-renowned for their expertise in cask-making. A meticulous attention to detail and careful monitoring of naturally air dryed T5 oak staves over a five-year period would ensure the best of Midleton whiskeys would infuse with the unique aromas, flavours and tannins of the truly unique Tronçais oak.
The Liquid Within
To match the special characteristics of Tronçais oak, a unique batch of very special Midleton single grain and single pot still whiskeys matured over decades spanning the 1980s-2000s in American bourbon barrels were selected and carefully filled into T5 casks – led and overseen by O’Gorman. These grain and pot still distillate styles have resulted in an elegant and refined whiskey that superbly delivers notes of poached pears, caramelised apples, and honeycomb, all augmented by the deliciously subtle influence of the Tronçais oak.
A Word From Kevin O’Gorman, Master Distiller at Midleton Distillery:
“We may have created ‘the Pinnacle of Irish Whiskey’ with Midleton Very Rare, but we are constantly driven by the desire to push boundaries and create something new. Midleton Very Rare Forêt de Tronçais represents our relentless pursuit of perfection and innovation while staying true to the unmistakable Midleton character and DNA, as we introduce some of the world’s finest oak to produce an outstanding and elegant Midleton expression.”
Midleton Very Rare Forêt de Tronçais Official Tasting Notes
Nose: Oak-enriched perfumed aromas with delectable fruit notes of poached pears, caramelised apples, and orange zest. Additional notes of honeycomb and toasted hazelnut continue to evolve in tandem with the building aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans. The woodland spices are brought to the fore by the elegant and measured influence of the extra fine-grained French oak, adding nuanced characteristics that enhance the pot still spices and floral grain whiskeys in this complex and aged blend.
Taste: Herbal at first, with notes of fresh peppermint and sage, weaving amongst the succulent orchard fruits and zesty orange. The oak’s subtle tannins complement the chocolate-dipped honeycomb and sweet vanilla, adding to the luscious, silken texture synonymous with Midleton’s pot still and grain whiskeys. Elevated wood spices continue to evolve adding further complexity to this intricate whiskey.
Finish: Exquisitely long finish where the fruits and spices are enveloped by the enchanting nature of the toasted wood, showcasing a harmonious balance between Irish whiskey and French oak.
The Midleton Very Rare Forêt de Tronçais whiskey bottle is truly a sight to behold. Unveiled in our presence at No.3 The Château the bottle design was inspired by the Midleton duck egg blue colour which features on the orchid in the Midleton logo. The cabinet, created by Manufacture Jacquemin, a third-generation traditional woodcrafts business based in the Jura Mountains in Eastern France, is made from fine oak from the Tronçais forest and features laser-cut illustrations that tip their hat to the legendary French woodland, established in the 1600s to supply oak for shipbuilding sustainably, and today, play a role in this whiskey’s unique story.
Conclusion And Availability
Ape to Gentleman were blessed to have been in Cognac for an education in the story of Midleton Very Rare Forêt de Tronçais whiskey, and of course having sampled the spirit itself can declare it a whiskey par excellence. If you’re lucky enough to purchase a bottle or taste a dram, we are certain you’ll agree with our assessment of this complex and refined bottle of truly magnificent whiskey. Sláinte!
This first edition of Midleton Very Rare Forêt de Tronçais is bottled at 48% ABV and will be available in select markets including Ireland, USA, Northern Ireland, Global Travel Retail, France, UK, China, Hong Kong and online to order from the 13th of October from 12pm at the RRP of €5,000 / $5,000 / £4,400.
Midleton Very Rare Forêt de Tronçais will be released in yearly editions, subject to the availability of this rare liquid and oak combination as the years progress.
For more information please visit midletonveryrare.com