Waterford Distillery uses old barley variety for whisky production

The Irish distillery produced 10,000 liters of spirit from Hunter barley

What gives whisky its flavour? Most of the influence can be attributed to the cask is the unanimous opinion, but also the selection of the raw materials and the individual processes of fermentation and distillation help to form the character of a whisky. Recently, Glenmorangie's Private Edition Allta called attention to the variation in fermentation through the use of wild yeast strains. The Waterford Distillery newly emphasized the influence of different types of barley in a press release today: Hunter is the name of an old barley variety used by the Irish whiskey distillery to produce 10,000 liters of spirit.

Terroir matters

Since January 2016, the Waterford Distillery has been producing on the southeast coast of Ireland. The man behind the project is Mark Reynier, who was a driving force behind the revival of the Islay distillery Bruichladdich. The Bruichladdich credo now also characterizes the Waterford Distillery: We believe terroir matters. And so they value local grain and work together with over 70 farmers who grow the barley for Waterford on different soils, but also use different varieties of barley.

Hunter barley: aroma versus yield potential

Hunter Barley was developed in 1959 and dominated the Irish malting industry in the sixties and seventies. In 1978/1979 it had to give way to new hybrid varieties such as Ark Royal and Triumph, with higher grain yield that are more fungus resistant. The variety of aromas became less important. In co-operation with Minch Malt, 40 t of Hunter Barley were raised to produce malt for whiskey production, starting with 25 g from the Irish Department of Agriculture's resources. This took several years.

The experiment with Hunter Barley will be followed by other using more old varieties, including some that have not been used for brewing and distilling for over 100 years. So, we can look forward to a range of whisky variations, which in a few years' time will illustrate the influence of terroir on whisky production.

Photos: Waterford Distillery

Staff members of Waterford Distillery (WD) and Minch Malt (MM): Grace O'Rielly (WD), Pat Kennedy (MM), Tom Bryan (MM), Alan Dempsey (MM), Neil Conway (WD)