Slightly more voluptuous and a touch sweeter than its sister the peated Fenniscourt. Just they way we like our spirits, both alcohol based and otherwise.
Notes: Probably the largest collection of Irish Whiskey expressions you have never heard of, and capturing the high ground of premium, single malt, single-origin, and certainly organic and biodynamic whiskies in the world! This is one of the many expressions that Waterford Distillery makes.
Both this expression, The Ballybannon Harvest of 2017, and the Fenniscourt Harvest 2017, are quite unique , not only to Waterford, but to almost the entire Irish Whisky category in using peated barley int its production.
Originally almost all Irish whiskey was peated, it happened when they were drying out the malted grain as a result the drying process. Later on barley was dried mechanically and handled differently so this characteristic was lost and no one wanted to be bothered with it.The people of Waterford decided to revive the tradition in these ( so far) two whiskies.An interesting side note as related by a talk with their distiller Neil Conway is that they ship their grain to Scotland to have it peated to their exacting specifications and shipped back due to the fact they wanted these experts to do it rather than doing it themselves to get the best peating possible ( ugly things can happen if you do it wrong – not to mention the expense of setting up a seating facility ). In any case there is only one other Irish whiskey that uses any sort of peating of their barley, that being Connemara , which we have yet to review.
I also have to admire the absolutely obsessive, possibly pathologically OCD in a charming way, that this group goes about making whisky. Using biodynamic techniques with heirloom barley varieties they seem to have obsessively thought out every other aspect of distillation, aging, cask wood aging, and every other possible point to produce a stunning whisky. One of the more interesting aspects; the careful selection of a variety of casks used in the aging process, a mix of virgin American Oak, Jack Daniels barrels, George Dickel , Margaux, French Vin Doux barrels (Sauterne), among others , along with the percentages used in the final blending. It is also fascinating to look across the range of other factors such as yeast types and fermentation times ( among many others ) to correlate and appreciate the many variables that are possible in the final spirit and against their others.
Another aspect that applies to all their whiskies is their Whisky Manifesto a fascinating and dare I say multifaceted approach to how they do things and how it contributes not only to outstanding whiskies, but their environmental impacts and world view. Fascinating read through to fully appreciate their gentle madness and obsessions that lead to such outstanding products.
Appearance: Clear as a bell, Light gold/brown color or the color of a light machine or compressor oil.Color of new barley straw would be another descriptor. Just a shade darker than its sister distillate, the Fenniscourt. On swirling it leaves a medium coating on the glass that is and recedes with with a good number of thin legs forming at first then disappearing , with a persistent edge line that then forms droplets/stars at the top – never seen a spirit do that before…
First Impression: A dry, biscuity but fruity with dried persimmons, figs, dark fruit, cocoa, alkali, Saigon cinnamon, saddle or harness leather.Dry, malty toffee smell with touches of heather and fruity notes in a dry sense all at once. Subtle.
Taste: Nice malty oily entry, slightly sweet and pecan type malt at first blush , then an off dry, with malty, grainy and peaty notes in a harmonious blend. Lighter elements of lemon peel, marzipan ( and or plastique/plastic explosives for those kind of fellows), slightly grassy, soil or loam, stones and finally a honey and pecan. A touch more peat and fruiter and slightly sweeter than its sister and in a delicate way.A pleasant alcohol warmth pushing it forward to a malty, cereal and smoky end . Lovely anytime kind of malt. A complex mixture of smoke and peat that reminds one of Erinmore Flake tobacco. Malt altogether with a nice amount of peat and a deft hand in both the peating and blending. The virgin wood, Jack Daniels, Margaux and sauterne casks are nicely represented in the blending of the final spirit. The French barrels give it some interesting depth and complexity not found in other malts, either Irish of Scotch. Even the Dickel barrels has some whispers in the final blend with its distinctive spirit.
Drinks: Can’t really comment as I think it is too nice to really mix with , but given the quality, it should make some pretty spectacular , somewhat drier Irish Whisky or Scotch Whisky cocktails. Also we did not get enough to play with.
Bottle: Can’t comment as we did not receive a production bottle
Other: Waterford Distillery has a plethora of other whisky expressions and we look forward to reviewing them if/when we can get our hands on some. So far, of the no peated expressions we have done ; the Biodynamic Luna 1.1, The Cuvee, The Dunbbell, and The Dunmore.
We also recently reviewed a sister Waterford Peated Malt The Fenniscourt.
Cigars: I’d say a somewhat more robust but not overdone cigar, a natural wrapper, a Hemingway series Short Story, maybe an Ashton, Davidoff or Flor De Nicaragua .
Final Thoughts: A very different expression of their malts. The amount and method of peating is very well done and while remarkable is also subtle .
Easily the most comprehensive and beautifully done website (of any kind but especially for Whisky) that we have ever had the privilege to visit.When you type in the teierorr code you go straight down a fascinating rabbit hole.Waterford Whisky.