Waterford GAIA 1.1: First Irish Organic Whisky

Marc Reynier starts the Arcadian series with this first certified Irish organic whisky


The Waterford Distillery in Ireland has made a name for itself several times in the last few months with its whisky in the eye-catching blue bottles: Mark Reynier has made the subject of "terroir" his guiding principle in whisky production and presents single malts made from carefully selected barley from 40 Irish farms. Now the committed whisky expert is stepping up and presenting Waterford GAIA 1.1, Ireland's first certified organic whisky.

The production of certified organic products in Ireland is subject to strict rules and controls. Responsible for control and certification in Ireland is the organization Organic Trust, which awarded Waterford GAIA 1.1 as the first Irish whisk(e)y the title "organic", the equivalent of "bio" in several other countries.

The basis for the organic certification of the whisky (which Waterford deliberately writes without an "e") was laid by farmers Paddy Tobin, Alan Jackson, Pat and Denis Booth, Jason Stanley, Trevor Harris and John Mallick, who grew organic barley on their land . For GAIA 1.1, their 2016 harvests were processed together, as the individual yields were not yet sufficient for the Waterford Single Farm Origins bottlings. But the distillery wants to increase significantly and aims to produce 400 to 600 casks of organic whisky annually.

The casks used were 42% first-fill US oak, 17% virgin US oak, 18% Vin Doux Naturel – sweet fortified wines – and 23% premium French oak. It’s Totally natural. The Waterford GAIA 1.1 was bottled without colouring, chill-filtration or additives at 50% ABV. This batch is limited to 24,000 bottles.

The Waterford GAIA 1.1 is the prelude to the distillery's new Arcadian series, in which old varieties, unusual cultivation methods or inspiring barley farmers are presented.

Tasting notes for the Waterford GAIA 1.1

Nose: barley notes are omnipresent. Hints of honey intensify sweet-flowery notes, in addition there are vanilla, orange peel, banana pulp, cane sugar and some hidden spicy notes.

Palate: Dense, oily and piquant with strong oak and the spiciness of cloves and pepper. Cherries, quinces, pear peels and dried apricots bring balance back.

Finish: Sweet with notes of pears cooked in port wine.

Image: Kirsch Import