Reynier’s Waterford Distillery starts productionBy Amy Hopkins
Bruichladdich Distillery’s former managing director Mark Reynier has revealed plans to make the “most profound Irish whiskey” in the industry as his new Waterford Distillery commences production.
The very first trial spirit run took place at Ireland’s new Waterford Distillery yesterday (9 December), just one year and four months after Reynier bought the site.
Reynier, who was forced to sell Bruichladdich Distillery to Rémy Cointreau in 2012 following an overriding vote from his board of directors, first announced plans to launch the distillery in late 2014.
The site is based at the Waterford Brewery, formally used by Diageo to make Guinness, and is operated under Reynier’s new company, Renegade Spirits.
Located in the port of Waterford in South East Ireland, Waterford Distillery has opened with the backing of former Bruichladdich investors John McTaggart, who will assume the role of chairman, and John Adams, who will be finance director, as well as 50 private shareholders.
Featuring two pot stills and one column still, it is able to produce both malt and grain spirits, but Reynier said his focus will be on single malt, and currently has no plans to produce grain liquid.
Speaking to The Spirits Business, Reynier said that due to the “unique” funding of the distillery, Waterford will not release any white spirits or bottle sourced whiskey in order to finance production. The company also has no plans to act as a third party producer.
“Our plan is to distill like mad for four to five years, and then set up a sales and marketing team,” he said.
Waterford will focus on innovation in barley, with Reynier planning to move on to yeast experimentation soon after, and currently has “all the kit” to test heat regulated fermentation.
‘Unprecedented’ traceability of barley
The distillery’s core whiskey will be a single malt made using barley sourced from 46 different Irish farms, five of which are organic – with a total of five different strains grown on 19 distinctive soil types, something Reynier claims is “unprecedented” in the sector.
Such a network of barley supply gives Waterford’s future whiskey traceability like no other, believes Reynier.
“South East Ireland is one of the best barley-growing regions in the world,” he added. “So as someone who is really interested in barley and terroir, this gave me the opportunity to set up a complete supply programme.
“We want to create the most profound and complex single malt whiskey anyone has ever seen. It’s taking my projects at Bruichladdich as expanding them big time.”
Reynier said that he expects to release the first whiskey from Waterford in five years’ time, but that launch dates remain flexible. Currently, capacity sits at one million litres, but could increase to three million with the installation of more stills, which Reynier said are not planned for another five years.
While Waterford is testing its stills with trial spirit runs, distilling will begin in earnest in January 2016.
On opening the distillery, Reynier said: “It’s like giving birth. You know it is going to happen, but the experience is still fraught with fear and exuberance. It’s extremely emotional.
“The guys here have done an amazing job in converting the distillery. It’s like something out of Blade Runner. It’s not romantic like some distilleries; it’s a mechanical, meaningful operation.”