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

Enter your email address for articles & updates & to hear about new Waterford Whiskies.

IT'S JUST A QUESTION OF MATURATION. BY ENTERING YOU NOT ONLY ACCEPT OUR INTELLECTUAL CHALLENGE, BUT ALSO
THE USE OF COOKIES & INFORMATION COLLECTION TO ENHANCE YOUR EXPERIENCE.

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

Ireland’s most heavily peated Whisky
August 25, 2023 | article | 5 minute read

We return to Irish whisky’s once-lost style…

Our explorations into the old ways of whisky-making have taken us, once again, to the forgotten flavours of Irish whisky’s past. And we emerge today with the most heavily peated Irish whisky of all time…

Though peat was once a flavour ubiquitous in Irish whisky — it covers more or less the same proportion of Ireland as it does Scotland, after all — for generations the flavours of real Irish peat had been lost.

Last year, with Single Farm Origins Ballybannon: Peated and Fenniscourt: Peated, we reintroduced the union of Irish malted barley with Irish peat. 

They were our first peated distillations — a journey into unmapped territory. Malting Irish barley with Irish peat for the first time in generations. With no idea how the peat would perform — at malting or in the distillery — we selected two Single Farms and malted each to a different level of the phenolic parts per million (ppm). This also offered a unique opportunity to compare and contrast; to see how the spirit reacted to different peating levels, and to how each farm responded to peat. Critically, of course, we wanted to study whether the flavours of terroir would remain dominant.

And so although both would have been classed as heavily peated by any standards, not knowing how Irish barley and Irish peat would intertwine, we deliberately didn’t take our peating as far as we knew we could have.

PEATED SINGLE FARM ORIGINS: LACKEN & WOODBROOK

Our great discovery from distilling those first Peated Single Farm Origins was that, far from being overwhelmed by the flavours of peat, the nuances of terroir in each farm remained dominant over those of turf. Ballybannon and Fenniscourt were still unmistakeable in their terroir thumbprint. Encouraged, we resolved to take our peat levels a step further.

This vintage’s peat source remains the same: the sphagnum-rich, ultra-deep inland raised bog of Ballyteige, Co. Kildare.

But, having gained confidence from our first experiments, we dug deeper, cutting peat for our second vintage from further down in the bog. Here, where the turf is darker, richer, and — crucially — moister, we find peat that burns slower in the malting process; imparts more flavour, a higher ppm.

Once again, we chose two farms. Lacken, which some of our friends in France will have previously tried in its unpeated form, peated to 57ppm — higher than famous Islay whiskies such as Port Charlotte or Laphroaig — and Woodbrook, peated to a mighty 74ppm — the most heavily peated Irish whisky of all time.

Woodbrook
lacken-2
WD-Peat-Glenesk-Boortmalt-WEB-32
WD-Peat-Glenesk-Boortmalt-WEB-67
WD-Peat-Glenesk-Boortmalt-WEB-68

… yet terroir still trumps peat

Despite increasing the ppm of our Peated Single Farm Origins, we’re delighted to find that the distinct organoleptic thumbprints of our terroirs remain the primary influence on each whisky’s flavour. Indeed those lucky enough to still have the original Single Farm Origin: Lacken will have the fun of confirming this for themselves, as Head Brewer Neil recently did with Lacken’s own Philip Kehoe.

Sadly there will be no more barley from Woodbrook. Since the 2019 harvest that gave us this whisky, these fields have vanished from the map. A housing estate stands where there was once barley. We’ll never get whisky from here again — this is a lost Single Farm Origin.

In the meantime, curious tasters, particularly those peat fanatics affectionately known as Peat Freaks, can explore the dovetailing of its lost stamp of place with the deepest inflections of Irish peat ever distilled. That most evocative of rural evening aromas, the signature of old hearths and ancient crofts, the lost flavour of Irish whisky brought to its apogee.

Peated Single Farm Origins of Lacken and Woodbrook will be available to curious Peat Freaks this Autumn across Europe and elsewhere in the world. Hearthside whiskies for hearthside season…

The Story of Irish Peated Single Malt Whisky:

Featured Products
SHARE
READ NEXT
MOST READ
1
Take a virtual tour of The Facilitator
April 6, 2021 | ELEMENT:copper, life, spirit
3
April 6, 2021 | ELEMENT:spirit, water
5
Our search for whisky's most natural flavours
October 11, 2021 | ELEMENT:barley, spirit, steel, water