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Waterford Distillery creates ‘first’ organic Irish whiskey

Mark Reynier’s Waterford Distillery has released what is thought to be Ireland’s first organic-certified whiskey.

The Organic: Gaia 1.1 whiskey is part of Waterford Distillery’s Arcadian Series

Distilled in 2016, the new Organic: Gaia 1.1 whiskey is made with organic Irish barley grown by a group of farmers. The single malt has been certified by Ireland’s Organic Trust.

The farmers, John Mallick, Paddy Tobin, Alan Jackson, Pat and Denis Booth, Jason Stanley and Trevor Harris, were challenged by the distillery to produce the first Irish-grown organic malting barley.

The new whiskey has been matured in super-premium oak barrels, comprising: 42% first-fill American oak, 17% virgin American oak, 23% premium French oak and 18% vin doux naturel, known as sweet fortified wine casks.

The 50% ABV bottling has been made without the use of colouring, additives or chill filtration.

Waterford Distillery founder and CEO Mark Reynier said: “It beggars belief that much of the industry treats with indifference the primary source of single malt whisky’s extraordinary flavour: barley. We have placed barley – where and how it is grown – at the heart of what we do, curious about where the real whisky flavour may be found.

“A natural progression of this philosophy is to see what not only single farm origins can accomplish but what organically grown barley can do when it is given the right platform.

“Compliance for organic status is not straight forward by any means – there’s a shed load of hoops to jump through, deep cleaning regimens, audits and assessments to undergo. So, is it worth it? We certainly think so, what we lose in yield and hair-pulling we gain in purity and definition of flavour.

“We’re not playing at it; we lay down 400 to 600 casks of organic spirit a year, we buy all the Irish grown organic malting barley that can get our hands on. Waterford Organic will be a main player in our ongoing portfolio for the discerning whisky drinker.”

The new expression is part of Waterford Distillery’s Arcadian Series, which pays tribute to radical growers and alternative values such as heritage grains and unusual growing methods.

Organic: Gaia 1.1 is priced at around €80-€86/£80/US$110 and will be available from 12 October in more than 20 markets. Europe and Asia will receive 18,000 bottles, while an additional 6,000 will be allocated to the US.

In May 2020, Waterford Distillery revealed its first commercial Irish whiskey series – Single Farm Origin.

Reynier also recently kicked off production at his US$25 million distillery in Grenada, which will make “terroir-driven rum”.

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