We recently reviewed a handful of Waterford’s Single Farm Origin releases, which showcased the distillery’s obsession with terroir. With all of the fuss about soil and farms, it’s probably not surprising that Waterford is working diligently with its partner growers towards organic barley production. In total, there are some 86 different farms across Ireland that Waterford has worked with to grow barley for its single malts, but only a few of them produce barley that is certified organic and no one farm produces enough yet to distill into an entire Single Origin release. An Organic Single Farm Origin Series is forthcoming, but for the time being, Waterford is showing off its organic whiskies in Gaia Edition 1.1, the first release in its Arcadian Series.
By combining organic barley grown at six different farms north of the distillery, Waterford has been able to reportedly lay down 400 to 600 casks of spirit a year since it began the organic project in 2015. Gaia Edition 1.1 is the initial product of these efforts and the first Irish whisky certified by the Organic Trust. Like the Single Origin Series, there’s no shortage of detail provided. It was aged just under four years in four different cask types: first-fill American (42%), virgin American (17%), premium French (23%), and vin doux naturel (18%). If you want to know the names of each farmer involved, they can tell you that, too. Anyway, let’s dig in!
There’s a remarkable freshness in the aroma that comes across, at times, as almost soapy. Notes of cut grass, hay bales, lemon zest, and green grapes, all kissed with a bit of salty sea breeze, make the experience bright and earthy at the same time. Astride the honeyed, doughy malt notes, there is also a more wine-forward component that comes across oily and mineral rich. The brightness explodes on the palate with warm notes of juicy white raisins, green apples, and candied lemon peel. As things unfold across the palate, the malt showcases pastry notes of sugary scones and clotted cream. A bit of candied ginger and cinnamon arrive on the finish with a lingering note of poached pears. Delightful stuff, if a bit brash and youthful.