Waterford Distillery has released its first Heritage: Hunter bottling, which is made from Heritage barley. Part of the Arcadian Farm Origin range, which explores rarity and the flavors derived from the old ways, the Heritage bottling aims to resurrect lost flavors from a bygone era.
Named after pioneering plant breeder Dr. Herbert Hunter, the barley was first introduced in 1959. It was praised by distillers for two decades until yield-enhancing varieties became the industry favorite. Waterford is now venturing back in time to bring back the natural flavors to the modern whiskey industry.
“Our extensive terroir studies unearthed some surprises, one being that modern barley, propagated over the last 50 years, while bred for valid economic imperatives has been at the expense of flavor,” said Mark Reynier, Waterford Distillery CEO. “There has been a 5-decade-long flavor moratorium. Remember: malt whisky is the most complexly flavored spirit in the world precisely because of barley. Barley is the flavor of malt whisky. So it makes sense to us to find out what flavors have gone by the wayside – and indeed, if they are any good, let’s bring ’em back!”
“We’re intrigued. We wanted to know what whisky used to taste like. What were those original flavors of days gone by now lost to modern breeding programs? To do that, we have had to turn the clock back, to explore the various game-changer varieties of 1959, 1900, and even back to the Middle Ages when barley evolved with and adapted to Ireland’s fields and climates – its terroirs,” says Reynier.
Waterford has partnered with partners Minch Malt, and the Department of Agriculture to create Hunter in their distillations. The new release had to be propagated from a 50-gram bag of seeds and upscaled over several years before there was enough to distill. Just 50 barrels were distilled from the first harvest with just 10,000 bottles available worldwide.
Waterford Heritage: Hunter was matured in a combination of 45% first fill US oak; 19% virgin US oak; 21% Premium French oak; and 15% Vin Doux Naturel.
For more information, head over to Waterford’s official website.
In August, Reynier’s terrier-focused Renegade Rum Distillery unveiled a diverse new selection of four Pre-Cask white rums.