Waterford Bannow Island and Ballykilcavan: First releases of the Single Farm Origins series

The Irish distillery focuses on the influence of terroir


The Waterford Distillery introduces itself to the European whisky market launching two limited releases: Waterford Bannow Island and Waterford Ballykilcavan are the first editions of the Single Farm Origins series. The small batch bottlings of the young Irish distillery are all about the motto that the modern distillery proclaims: Terroir.

When Mark Reynier started operating the Waterford Distillery in 2015, the focus was clearly on the barley: “For years folk have been hoodwinked on where whisky’s quality truly lies – once stills, then water, now wood. We want to shine the light on what really makes malt whisky the most complex spirit in the world, the primary source of all that extraordinary flavour: barley”, the founder and managing director of the distillery explains.

The influence of the "terroir", i.e. the soil conditions and the climate, was a key issue for him while he was working in the wine sector and subsequently when the Bruichladdich Distillery was reactivated. Now he is tackling the topic in its full breadth intensively.

The Waterford Distillery cooperates with 40 regional farms, where the barley is grown separately. The terroir is sometimes characterized by the salty coastal climate and sandy soils such as on Ed Harpurs Farm, which supplies the barley for Bannow Island, sometimes by fertile, forest-protected fields such as those of David Walsh Kemmis' farm, where the grain for the Ballykilcavan is growing up. The barley is malted and processed separately so that the basis of each cask of Waterford whisky is traceable. A terroir code printed on each bottle of Waterford Whisky gives whisky enthusiast access to a wealth of information on the distiller's website that offers great transparency.


Head Distiller Ned Gahan and founder Mark Reynier


The Waterford Single Farm Origins were bottled uncoloured and unchill-filtered at 50% ABV. Since the focus is not on cask maturation and they want to signal that the different colors of the whisky should be of secondary interest, Waterford decided to use bottles made of blue glass.

Producer’s tasting notes Waterford Bannow Island 1.1

Appearance: Light to medium honey colour; the glass is well-coated with very slow legs.

Nose: Malty, red roses, very fresh. Milk chocolate. Warm vanilla custard. Dried fruit, sweet, a perfumed elegance. Bread-and-butter pudding and custard. Walking through a freshly-cut hay field.

Taste: Vibrant, exuberant: white pepper, spicy, cloves, mouth coating with a dried sweetness of salted caramel. Malted biscuits, sherry. Oily and dry finish – mouth puckering.

Producer’s tasting notes Waterford Ballykilcavan 1.1

Appearance: Light hay to honey, very oily.

Nose: Berries with fresh foliage, redcurrants, grapes, barnyard. Vibrant and again freshly cut grass.

Taste: Cooked bananas with brown sugar, and plenty of heat. Mulled wine and cinnamon. A dry, oily lasting finish.


Image: Waterford Distillery