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A spicy single malt, read more about Waterford The Cuvée whisky
Waterford Distillery is the brainchild of Mark Reynier, whose previous career encompasses 20 years in the wine trade, before taking on the then-abandoned Bruichladdich distillery in 2000. In 2015 Reynier announced the launch of Waterford Distillery, believing that Waterford has the best barley in the world. Whilst distillation and maturation are commonly judged more than terroir (the idea that the same plant sown in different places will produce different results based on the soil, wider landscape, weather, climate around it) in the world of spirits, Reynier believes these differences can be tasted to create exceptional whiskies.
Reynier bought a large, modern Guinness brewery and recruited nearly a hundred barley farmers across southeast Ireland to build up a patchwork of varying terroir, barley varieties and cultivation methods. Each farm’s contribution is tracked and kept separate at all times, from grain to malt, new spirit and whisky.
That they stick with 'whisky', not 'whiskey' is a hint that Waterford double distil (rather than triple, as is common in Ireland), presumably to retain more malt character. There are now several Waterford whiskies to choose from. There is the Single Farm Origin line, each release a snapshot of the land it came from. The Arcadian Series highlights organic, biodynamic and heritage barley offerings. Then there are The Cuvées, which are built from the breadth of whiskies now available to Waterford in the manner of winemakers. As Waterford grow and mature their stocks, expect this to be the core of their bottlings.
Impossible to tell until it leaves the distinctive blue bottles all Waterford’s releases share, The Cuvée pours a pale gold. On the nose you get lots of spice – ginger, vanilla and pepper, a light barley character, floral notes and a touch of lemon. The palate brings in fresh mint, lots of pepper and then some chocolate notes, biscuity sweetness and ginger on an oily mouthfeel. There’s an intensity to the finish, with pepper and then some oak drying out the floral honeyed sweetness leaving the original cereal note.
Part of Waterford’s appeal is how they capture the imagination, and The Cuvée as it stands is both a very fine, complex whisky and also a window into the shape of releases to come. There is definitely still a slightly young spirit character to The Cuvée, but even so there is much to enjoy. The ideal way to drink it is in a tasting glass. If you can compare it alongside another Waterford release to see the variations, so much the better.