Waterford Bannow Island 1.1

"Great promise is present in this whisky already with a smart use of the cask"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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Téireoir, or terroir as the French would correct, is the prime advertising flashlight for Waterford. Due to the novel nature of the subject in the world of whisky, heated discussions were to be expected. On one side the effect of terroir in other spirits, in particular wine, is accepted by most, if not all, oenophiles, while the counterargument by some within the whisky community is that distillation and long maturation in casks overwhelms any influences that may have been there. The fact that Waterford adapts the distillation procedure and cask types for each terroir whisky has fed the sceptic views of the non-believers. As an graduated biochemist, I can understand both points of view, however I do not agree with the latter. The give a simplified example: if I would would produce a chocolate bar with hazelnuts and another one with walnuts, it is unlikely to argue that the effect of the nuts is not there because it requires a slightly different procedure (p.e. I need to adapt the grinder since hazelnuts are sturdier). The soil and weather conditions do effect the biochemical signature of the barley. That is just a plain scientific fact. If the input for the distillation is different, the end product will be different, unless you distillate until you are left with pure alcohol. The reaction during the the distillation and during the maturation in the cask will be different. I agree the variety in casks does make it more difficult to recognise a clear difference between different barleys, but still the average overall picture will be distinct if the input is distinct enough. How distinct barley grown on one farm or the other is, I do not know myself, but based on other crops I can imagine that these can be huge. Enough for now about the terroir discussion, let us go to the whisky. The barley has been provided by Ed Harpur on the southern coast Bannow Island and might contain influence from the salty sea winds and sandy soil.

Nose

Unfamiliar territory. Kinda sweet-ish, lots of chocolate-chip cookies, barley sugar, cooked cabbage and fennel. The wine is clearly coming through with some sweet yellow fruits. It is kinda forceful on the alcohol and , I would not say closed, but it is not very accessible either. With water brings a few floral hints, more raw potato and a hint of tomato, also more fudge, and a hint of aniseed. 

Taste

Lots of sugars, cane sugar, white sugar, barley sugar, and pears. Some sweet apples, natural vanilla, white wine, grape juice and natural wood. With the latter I mean that it does not feel forced upon the spirit. It is very coherent, not too sharp and balanced. I also get straw, lemonade, lime, mashed potatoes with lots of butter, and pumpernickel. Water makes it sharper, not better I would say. The aftertaste is rather long with cabbage, potato, vanilla, grass and raw barley. It feels very natural. I also get a lot of Sprite lemonade.

Overall

Obviously, we can not expect the complexity of longer maturation, but this has certainly got potential. Good power, balance and it feel very natural. The cask influence has smartly been used to lift up the spirit. That is exactly how we like to see it. Just like I am sure that I will keep following this distillery during their development the coming years. So far I cannot say it feels very Irish, but in fact that does not really matter.

What others say

Whiskybase: 85.96 (110 votes) * Thijs Klaverstijn @WordsOf Whisky: 88/100 * Serge Valentin @Whiskyfun: 88/100
Read for yourself

Big thanks to for sharing the sample!

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
55%
Sweet <-> Spicy
30%
  • Barley
  • Chocolate-chip cookies
  • Potato
Nose 85%
Taste 87%
Balance 87%
Depth 84%
Finish 86%
Score