In our pioneering quest to unearth whisky’s most natural flavours, we now present resurrected lost flavours from a bygone era. Part of our Arcadian Farm Origin range, which explores real rarity and the flavours derived from the old ways, our first Heritage bottling is made from a game-changing variety called Hunter.
Named after pioneering plant breeder Dr Herbert Hunter, it was introduced in 1959, and was for two decades lauded for its distinctive ﬂavour. Modern distillers, obliged to use the yield-enhancing varieties, have been deprived of heritage ﬂavours – ﬂavours that evolved more naturally over centuries in harmony with Ireland’s terroirs. We have ventured back in time to rediscover Irish varieties, the natural ﬂavours. Rare, game-changing barleys to a new era of single malt connoisseurs.
Working alongside partners Minch Malt, and the Department of Agriculture, our Heritage distillations are a labour of love. Hunter had to be propagated from a 50 gram bag of seeds and upscaled over several years before there was enough to distil. Just 50 barrels were distilled from the first harvest.
Heritage: Hunter was matured in a combination of 45% first fill US oak; 19% virgin US oak; 21% Premium French oak; and 15% Vin Doux Naturel. Just 10,000 bottles are available worldwide.
Mark Reynier, Waterford Distillery CEO, explains:
“Our extensive terroir studies unearthed some surprises, one being that modern barley, propagated over the last 50 years, while bred for valid economic imperatives has been at the expense of flavour. There has been a 5-decade-long flavour moratorium. Remember: malt whisky is the most complexly flavoured spirit in the world precisely because of barley. Barley is the flavour of malt whisky. So it makes sense to us to find out what flavours have gone by the wayside – and indeed, if they are any good, let’s bring ’em back!
“We’re intrigued. We wanted to know what whisky used to taste like. What were those original flavours of days gone by now lost to modern breeding programs? To do that, we have had to turn the clock back, to explore the various game-changer varieties of 1959, 1900 and even back to the Middle Ages when barley evolved with, and adapted to, Ireland’s fields and climates – its terroirs.
“Sure, these Heritage yields are significantly reduced both off the field and in the still house, the cereal more affected by wind and rain – you have to be a bit mad to do it – yet the excitement of looking back to experience long lost flavours was too much to resist. “These ‘new’ – yet old – flavours give a remarkable insight into what whisky would have really tasted like back in the day. We’re going back to barley’s future, using the best of modern technology to identify specific historic flavours.
“These ‘new’ – yet old – ﬂavours give a remarkable insight into what whisky would have really tasted like back in the day. We‘re going back to barley’s future, using the best of modern technology to identify speciﬁc historic ﬂavours By crossing with more economically viable modern plants, we’ll see if we can produce a sort of Barley Greatest Flavour Hits.”
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