In their quest to create the perfect “natural” whisky, Waterford Distillery is leaving no stone unturned. From an obsession with terroir, culminating in their recent The Cuvee bottling, to a focus on organic practices, Waterford is taking an almost winemaker-like approach to the typically conservative craft of whisky-making. Last fall, the distillery released a whisky that perhaps emphasizes this approach more than any other. With Biondynamic Luna, a whisky that sounds like a NASA project, Waterford is showcasing a spirit created using the “radical biodynamic farming philosophy.” Per Waterford’s CEO, Mark Reynier:
During the 1980s in the vineyards of Burgundy and Alsace, following decades of agro-chemical excess and the race for yield over quality, I witnessed the renaissance of terroir and modern winemaking. Out of this, biodynamics blossomed – a new philosophy that at first seemed outlandish, but after tasting the results increasingly proved its worth.
During my career I’ve had the fortune to taste the world’s greatest wines, it’s no surprise to see the ever-increasing adoption of biodynamics in the search for intensity and purity of flavour. If for the grape, why not the grain?
This first Luna release is made from a blend of barley from three different biodynamic farms and aged over three years in a mix of first fill, virgin, French, and Vin Doux naturel (sweet wine) casks. It joins the Gaia organic line in what the distillery calls its Arcadian Series, meant to “showcase the flavours produced by forgotten ways of farming and rare barley varieties.” Let’s check it out.
The aroma, like a lot of whiskies from Waterford, is bright yet elegant and somewhat restrained. Youthful in its depth, there’s still a well-formed bouquet here of wildflowers and honey candies, crunchy pear and unbaked oatmeal cookies. The palate is sweet with an oily mouthfeel and easily approachable warmth. Initial notes of dark red fruits and clove-studded citrus lighten quickly to candy apple and pear chips. The finish showcases a bit of peppery spice and fading notes of sweet orange glaze and vanilla icing. This definitely tastes “natural,” but I’m not sure considerably more so than any other whisky.