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Waterford Distillery launches Ireland's first certified organic whisky

Ireland's Waterford Distillery has released the country's first certified organic single malt whisky. 

The brand - which calls itself 'barley forward and terroir driven' - has launched Organic: Gaia 1.1 as part of its new Arcadian series, a provenance-driven range of Irish whiskies made form organic, biodynamic and heritage grains. It is designed as a continuation of Waterford's exploration of how microclimates and soil types affect barley growth and the flavours of the resulting whisky. 

Taking its name from the Greek goddess of the Earth, Organic: Gaia 1.1 was distilled in 2016 from 100 per cent organic Irish barley. It is matured in a mixture of first-fill American oak, virgin American oak, premium French oak and Vin Doux Naturel (fortified wine) casks and is bottled at 50% ABV without colouring or chill filtration.  

Waterford Distillery founder and CEO Mark Reynier said: "At Waterford, 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 are a lot 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 are 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 we can get our hands on. Waterford Organic will be a main player in our ongoing portfolio for the discerning whisky drinker."

Organic: Gaia 1.1 is exclusively distributed in the UK by Speciality Brands (RRP £77).

19 November 2020 - Bethany Whymark