Waterford distillery is a major new whisky project by the man behind the renaissance of islay’s bruichladdich single malt whisky – Mark Reynier.
At Waterford, on the banks of the River Suir, on Ireland’s sunny south-eastern coast, they found an exceptional state-of-the-art facility originally built by Diageo in 2004 and converted to distilling in 2015. They claim to have quality raw materials: the purest of spring water from renowned ancient wells; a team of passionate distillers that share the vision; and the very best barley in the world.
The provenance of their barley, where and how it is cultivated, is therefore key. Taking proven principles from Islay a giant step further, they have sourced an unprecedented 86 Irish farms, including organic and biodynamically run, growing barley on 19 distinct soil types. With a pioneering digital logistical system keeping track, each farmer’s crop is harvested, stored, malted, and distilled separately. Thus they can capture in spirit each farm’s terroir, that subtle character shaped by micro-climate and soil. Individuality and integrity from field to barrel.
The goal of this precision, provenance with total traceability, is to provide the distillery team with an unparalleled library of maturing, nascent single malt whiskey as each farm’s barley is distilled, one per week throughout the year.
The first whisky ran in January 2016. and they are now releasing small batches of single farms barley…
You can actually trace EVERYTHING, and there’s a dedicated site devoted to “Teireoir”, a nice word game on Terroir and Ireland. if you insert the batch number on the back of each (blue!!) bottle, you can see information about the farmer, field, location, soil type, etc. So much information it’s TOTALLY TRANSPARENT (some would say too transparent and irrelevant).
you can watch a video of the farmer talking :
Check out the info sheet for the BALLYKILCAVAN whisky : so much detail about the barley…
|SOWN||19 MARCH 2015|
|HARVESTED||17 AUGUST 2015|
|ARRIVED AT CATHEDRAL||18 AUGUST 2015|
|WENT FOR MALTING||11 JANUARY 2016|
|ARRIVED AT DISTILLERY||26 JANUARY 2016|
|FERMENTATION STARTED||4 FEBRUARY 2016|
|DISTILLATION STARTED||9 FEBRUARY 2016|
|FILLED AT WAREHOUSE||29 FEBRUARY 2016|
|MARRIAGE OF CASKS||5 FEBRUARY 2020|
|SENT FOR BOTTLING||3 JUNE 2020|
and a picture and analysis of the soil:
want to know about the cask make of this vatting , say no more, it a;ll there including each cask info and an infographic as well:
Those guys are serious when they say Transparency. I love it, as a whisky geek. and get this : you can actually LISTEN to the sound file of the field they have recorded. it’s insane. but very very cool.
Ok, all this transparency is very nice, the blue bottle stands out (some would argue it looks like Blue Nun…) but how’s the whisky? It’s pretty good and the hype? It’s partly well deserved. Let’s have a wee head to head
Waterford Single Farm Origin – Bannow Island 1.1 , 50% abv
This single malt was distilled using a single vintage of Overture barley grown on the south coast of Co. Wexford by Ed Harpur on his Bannow Island farm.The spirit was aged in a combo of French and American oak casks, and bottled at 50% ABV with no chill-filtration or additional coloring.
Nose: Quite sweet, and fruity with nice fruity touches – nectarine and ripe orange as well, there are quite a lot of wood spices, and vanilla cream, sweet dough, and baked apples, and a bit more lemony with time.
Finish: Lots of wood, with the vanilla sweetness and apple peel, and golden syrup.
Palate: round and oily, very nice mouthfeel, with initial spice heat (pepper. chilly, ginger) on the first wave of sensations, then it tones down to reveal the barley sweetness and more of the sweet vanilla ice cream, with cinnamon on top.
Waterford Single Farm Origin – Ballykilcavan 1.1
This is one of the first releases from the series, made exclusively using Taberna barley grown by David Walsh-Kemmis on his Ballykilcavan farm in Co. Laois. After distillation, the whisky is matured in a combination of French and American oak and then bottled at 50% ABV with no chill-filtration or additional coloring.
Nose: spicy and more grassy / farmy than the previous one, with quite some pepper on the nose here, some fruit but also quite deeper and more brooding, or darker, not as fruity and summer but more autumnal and leafy, that sort of thing going on.
Palate: I am getting a wine-y note, and some deep chocolate/ cocoa/ malt and char toasting, again leafy and damp, with a bitter edge, the sherry casks are more pronounced here for sure.
Finish : black pepper, barley, cereal, ginger.
Conclusion: So… Is the hype about Waterford distillery justified? Well, I think they are making lovely whiskies and keeping 100% transparency, which I love. The site offers so much information about each whisky, so for a whisky geek like me, this is heaven. The juice is pretty good too even at this tender age. I will be following this distillery very closely in the coming years, and so should you.