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Are you curious about the origins of Whisky's natural flavour?

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Are you legally old enough
(and sufficiently curious)
to enjoy terroir-driven whisky?

A NATURAL WHISKY MANIFESTO

In our ambition to make the world’s most profound and natural single malt whiskies, one must respect the land. It just so happens that respecting the land – and its terroir – has other benefits.

In language terms, we choose to reject the word ‘sustainability’, which has for decades been altered beyond all meaning, used to cover sins – or even to create spurious stories. Though often born out of good intentions, we believe its corporate overuse and haziness can often become a red flag, not a green one.

We simply choose to think in terms of integrity: doing the right thing.

So, this is what we believe.

PRODUCE OF IRELAND = 100% IRISH-GROWN BARLEY

Barley is the source of malt whisky’s flavour. It is influenced by where and how it is grown.

We believe the best barley in the world is grown locally, right here in Ireland. Because it says “Irish” on the bottle – that’s the appellation –  we believe the barley should be 100% Irish-grown.

Unlike most of the industry, our barley is never mixed with imported barley only to be delivered as generic “Irish malt”. Not a single grain is shipped from overseas, with emissions hidden away through the supply chain.

In other words, every single grain is local, grown across diverse and remarkable terroirs of Ireland. All of it, not simply a small amount to make a nice press release, or to make some vacuous claims about climate impact. 

We don’t merely draw our barley from local farms, but we keep them as separate farms – we celebrate this individuality – as Single Farm Origins.

Yet to simply ask for each farm to be kept separate as a Single Farm Origin unit – unmixed with imported barley, specific to one farm, one place – adds 10% to our barley costs before we’ve done anything with it, thus putting our money where our mouth is.

If our growers experience a challenging harvest, one that produces lower yields or high proteins, we cannot simply ship more grain from across Europe, delivered to a general distilling specification, with the resulting carbon impacts hidden away and passed along to others in the supply chain. Terroir-driven production means that we must play the hand that nature deals us.

Terroir keeps us honest and transparent – and our TEIREOIR code on each and every bottling shows this honesty and transparency.

TÉIREOIR CODE
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REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

We were the first distillery in Ireland to produce an organic whisky.

We were the first distillery in the world to release a biodynamic whisky.

We are the only distillery in Ireland certified by the biodynamic authority Demeter, as well as the Organic Trust – these partners certify the distillery itself and our whiskies.

Approximately 25% of our growers now farm using unconventional organic and biodynamic methods.

Such is our quest to unearth whisky’s most natural flavours that we are currently the largest producer of organic and biodynamic whiskies in the world – we’re not playing around at this; we mean what we say. We take such ecologically beneficial farming methods – and the resulting flavour benefits – very seriously.

We believe there is a symbiotic relationship between the inquisitive distiller seeking purer, natural flavours, and the barley plant.

We believe that what’s good for the grain, is good for the drinker.

As the barley plant gets its nutrition from the soil, any natural enhancements there ultimately lead to ever more expressive, vibrant flavours – that’s what we’re after. But it also means that the wider environment benefits, too. Such practices, though increasingly being brought to conventional agriculture for the obvious natural gains, are most dramatic with biodynamic and organic agricultural methods, which is now more commonly being described as regenerative agriculture.

When the farm is viewed as a living organism, farmer, barley plant and soil must work together. To begin with, in organic agriculture there is naturally an absence of artificial treatments; furthermore soil fertility becomes key, with compositing, crop rotation – and in the case of biodynamics, the esoteric preparations – the humus layer becomes a vibrant, nutritious substrate for plants.

Barley thrives. Flavour intensifies. Everyone wins.

Soil becomes a better carbon regulator in the process, and the land itself better able to weather the more frequent weather phenomenons brought about by increases in global climate temperature. Yet there’s far more to the natural world than climate targets alone: as the Biodynamic Federation highlights, “35% more birds and 23% more insects are found in organic farmland thanks to the creation of natural habitats and the absence of chemical and synthetic pesticides.

And that’s just the life you can see – let alone turbocharging microbial activity – the interface of soil, nutrient and plant roots – underfoot. Microbes too might not get considered in corporate sustainability tick-box exercises – but we know the barley plant enjoys a more vibrant soil.

In addition to championing biodynamic and organic agriculture, we’re working in partnership with our maltsers at Minch Malt to capture flavours from forgotten barley varieties to the farms of Ireland. In the generational and noble pursuit of yield, we believe that there is lost genetic potential in the breeds of yesteryear – so we’d like to investigate greater crop diversity, greater flavour diversity.

packaging

Composted-box
Vinolock
Packaging

The world of packaging is complex. Whether a company recycles a proportion or otherwise, there is simply no escaping the fact that the creation of glass is an incredibly awe-inspiring and deeply intensive use of energy: great dragon-like furnaces, vast and towering, never sleep in the creation of glass. No one seems to have invented a workaround; one isn’t coming anytime soon. Our bottles themselves made of cobalt-infused cosmetic grade glass forged by Stoelzle Flaconnage nearby in Yorkshire, UK. You can view their own high environmental standards online.

We opt for simple elegance in our design elements. Our bottles are sealed using enclosures called Vinoloks. They’re made of glass that already uses a signifiant amount of recycled materials and, unlike plastic and cork enclosures, are totally recyclable

We mature all of our whisky locally, just down the road at Ballygarran – we don’t drive regularly across the country. We bottle all of our whisky a stone’s throw away – right here in Waterford – so again, keeping things local, which minimises transportation emissions.

Our outer packaging, the gift cartons, are sourced within the E.U. from suppliers that use responsible forestry sources (you’ll be able to see the certification FSC-C001775 at the bottom of the box). They’re based on pulp consisting of cellulose, hemicellulose and some lignin, which will be degraded by microorganisms in nature. (The decomposition time required depends on several factors such as temperature, humidity, microbiological activity and pH.)

And for those of you who have happily drunk the last drop of a bottle of Waterford Whisky, blue glass goes in with the green recycling.

FURTHER DISTILLERY SITE CERTIFICATIONS

Many of you will also find the following initiatives important when enjoying a bottle of Waterford Whisky.

1. Green Start Up Grant

We have completed the Life Cycle Assessment of the distillery (via a grant aided by Enterprise Ireland), which will enable us to:

• Identify environmental hotspots in its operations and products
• Benchmark our environmental footprints
• Take specific actions to reduce these footprints.

We are currently investigating opportunities for on-site renewable energy generation, such as solar panels and whatever clever technology we can make work.

2. Origin Green

We are also in the process of applying for Origin Green which is run by Bord Bia. We are hoping to have the Origin Green Certification in the next few months, and will update this page accordingly.

All ireland pollinator plan logo

3. All-Ireland Pollinator Plan

We’re now a member of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan for businesses. A small gesture, but it’ll certainly make the secret garden at the distillery a more interesting place when we have a buzzing wildflower site nearby.