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Waterford Distillery recruits terroir agronomist

Irish single malt whiskey producer Waterford Distillery has appointed Grace O’Reilly as the firm’s terroir agronomist.

Grace O’Reilly has been appointed terroir agronomist at Waterford Distillery

O’reilly will be responsible for Waterford’s terroir and will oversee the distillery’s relationship with its barley growers, as well as increasing the company’s understanding of barley.

‘Terroir’ is a French word that is commonly used in the wine trade to describe the interaction between soil, microclimate and location.

Mark Reynier, Waterford Distillery CEO, said: “Terroir, provenance and traceability may be trendy buzzwords frequently bandied about by marketing men, but to us they actually mean something.

“Heretical as it may seem, we can show that a whisky’s flavour can indeed be influenced by where its barley is grown.

“While large distillers understandably are reluctant to accept this inconvenience, we find it both compelling and intriguing. Grace’s appointment is a kind of ‘putting money where our mouth is’ thing.”

O’Reilly began her career with Minch Malt, part of maltster Boortmalt, and most recently worked for agricultural specialist Glanbia before her move to Waterford Distillery.

She has been advising malted barley growers in Ireland over the past four years.

“Waterford Distillery are leaders in a what I hope becomes a barley movement,” O’Reilly said. “The level of research and data that has been collected on the 71 farms so far involved is astonishing, and proves how serious we are about terroir.

“Growers are the gatekeepers of terroir and through the spirit we can see how all these factors can influence flavour.”

Earlier this year, Waterford Distillery distilled the first biodynamic Irish whiskey, though the spirit won’t be available to purchase for several years.

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