Ep. 90 - A Masterclass in Barley, One Farm at a Time
NEIL CONWAY - Waterford Distillery
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You've heard me talk about it before, barley is a complex grain that many distilleries dismiss. Yet don't tell the Scots, the Japanese, or the Irish that. Today we are going to dive in deep with a distillery that is digging into the science of barley, trying to completely understand it, so they can make the most amazing whiskies and elevate people's notion of this incredible grain.
Join me as I talk with Waterford Distillery's Head Brewer Neil Conway as he revisits many of the concepts we talked about during my visit last May and help you better understand the vision that builds upon what its owner was doing at Bruichladdich before coming to Ireland.
Listen to the full episode with the player above or find it on Spotify, Apple or your favorite podcast app under "Whiskey Lore: The Interviews." The full transcript and resources talked about in this episode are available on the tab(s) above.
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Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:00:10):
Welcome to Whiskey Lore, the interviews. I'm your host, drew Hamish, the Amazon bestselling author of Whiskey Lores Travel Guide to Experiencing Irish Whiskey and the Travel Guide to Experiencing Kentucky Bourbon. And after a big drive around the island of Ireland, getting 44 distillery visits in and getting to see all these different places, I got to say that one of my favorites on this trip was going to Waterford Distillery, the home of Waterford Crystal, but also now the home of amazing barley experimentation. And so for me, I don't know if I would consider myself a science guy first and foremost, I'm a history guy, but for some reason when I go to distilleries like Wilderness Trail in Kentucky, CLA in Scotland or Waterford and Ireland, it's like the science geek in me comes out and I want to learn more. And so today I have as my guest the man who walked me around the facility when I was there, and he gave me so much great information that I wanted to share his knowledge along with you. And so production manager and head brewer, Neil Conway. Neil, welcome to the show.
Neil - Waterford (00:01:23):
Yeah, thanks for having me on, Drew. No, it's great to talk to you again, and thanks for the invitation.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:01:29):
Absolutely. The Waterford is one of those distilleries that as I go down and I'm looking through my list of places that I'm going there's an air of mystery about it, I think to a lot of people because here in the States, I don't see the bottles on a lot of shelves. It feels like it's still somewhat emerging, but there's a lot of buzz around it. And so there's this interest, and I think some of that goes back to the man who got this all started mark Ree and his background with Brook Laude because a lot of my listeners know Brook Laude and understand what was going on there because there was a barley focus there as well. And so kind of talk us through, first of all, how Mark got there to Ireland and really what he's kind of looking to do with Waterford.
Neil - Waterford (00:02:27):
Yeah, so look, mark obviously started his journey in the drinks industry back in the day. He came from a wine background. His dad was a wine merchant via through London and France. Then he went into the spirits industry in London, and that followed by himself purchasing the Brook Latic distillery in on Isla in Scotland probably fif 20 years ago at this stage. So in his time in Brook Lamark resurrected that distillery to what it is today. He introduced the concept of using old heritage varieties and single farms to the brook production during his time at Brook La. The way Mark explains it to us is that he always had a vision of starting a new distillery and starting from scratch with basically a blank canvas where he could maybe embed his ideas from the very, very beginning through a conversation he had with an ex-colleague of his at Brook Ladi.
One of his head distillers who told him one day that had the best barley in his eyes was from the southeast of Ireland. And that lodged in Mark's head as in regards to, oh, if I ever do start another distillery down the line, I'm going to look at Southeast of Ireland, where the best barley in the world comes from. So fast forward fiber six years, mark saw his distillery. He came to Ireland to start his new journey in single malt whiskey production, but I single malt. So I suppose the journey started there on his sale of Brook la and as he said, starting with a blank canvas. Now, I suppose when Mark came to Ireland with his ideas, whiskey industry in Ireland was probably only at the start of its increase in volumes, increase in distillery. So he really come in there at the beginning like that.
Ireland, up until mid say 20 10, 20 12, there was dominantly only three main distilleries in Ireland. Fast forward 10, 12 years, and now there's nearly 40 distilleries and there's planning permission for more. So Mark came in at a good time. Now, there was a lot of luck involved in Mark's story in Mark's ideas for him to come true, because basically he was an English man coming over to Ireland with his ideas of how single mot whiskey should be produced, single farm origin, farms, terror, war driven, a lot of things needed to happen very quickly for his ideas to come true. He also needed a distillery. He needed a there, a lot of things had to happen. So this was in 2015. So Mark moved Ireland looking around the southeast of Ireland for a site for distillery. Luckily for him, where the distillery sits now in Waterford city was an Diagio brewery. So the Aggio used to produce Guinness in Ireland and other beers. So they had a facility in Waterford City. At that time, the beer sales in Ireland were on the downward projection. So Diagio decided to amalgam, they had all her brewing operations into one facility in St. James' Gate Dub. So they closed a number of breweries in Ireland, which one of them was water for brewery. One was Kenny Brewery.
In that period, whiskey was on the upward slope. So this was an opportunity for entrepreneurs like Mark to snap up these facilities because basically the facility here in Waterford is to my left here out the window. Know your audience can't see this, but it's a state-of-the-art brewing facility that Mark acquired. So he was very lucky in acquiring a distillery, an brewery, basically all you had to do was insert two potstills to transfer from a working brewery to a working distillery. Now, that was the easy part. The hard part was the concept. Single farms terror were driven, traceability, providence of the barley. So how Mark's idea was taking single farm batches of barley from the farm, storing them separately in a warehouse, bringing them through the malting, separate batches, and then once they come to the distillery, we would brew and distilling separate. So conversations had to have happen with growers, monsters, warehouse, facilities.
And you can imagine this is in 2015, I think the discussion started in around April, may. So harvest for that year was happening in July. So he had three months to organize all this. So normally what happens in the industry for spare production, this is common in the for production of virus, whiskey, scotch whiskey, American bourbon this is just common. What happens at harvest is the barley or whatever raw material you are using for the production of your spirit is harvested. The raw material goes to the merchant and it's mixed together with all other farms batches. So you lose your providence basically straight after harvest, and then it goes to the malt house where it's malted and then it goes to distillery. So you don't really know where your raw material is sourced from the exact location. So that's a game changer in regards to what Mark was doing here for Waterford Distillery, he wanted single farm batches, a hundred ton of Bari from a single farm stored separately, malted separately, and then Bruden still separately and Immatured separately when we could talk a little bit more about that as we go through the interview.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:08:23):
Yeah, absolutely. That's definitely where I want to deep dive because it's fascinating to see what you guys are doing there. And so we'll walk through each of the whiskeys that I have behind me here and kind of take a journey through the process as well. In regards to the distillery itself though, I think what's interesting is there are still some elements of the old distillery there and you having a brewing background, you actually had worked for Diagio for a while.
Neil - Waterford (00:08:53):
Yeah, yeah. So my apprenticeship here in 1998, I'm nearly giving away my age now, drew.
So in 98 I started here. This was a working brewery since the 17 hundreds, and the Stratman family owned it as a working brewery, and the brewery was situated on the banks of the river shore. So it was easy access for exporting beer over to the uk. So hence the reason the brewery was built on the river banks of the shore in the city. So back then, brewery continued for a number of years and the early 19 hundreds, then Guinness acquired the brewery and Guinness took it over as a site. And then as we all know, the Agile acquired the Guinness brand, and it became the agile brewery in the late 1990s, or sorry, early 1990s. So I started my apprenticeship in 98. I worked at the brewery for five or six years, and then I transferred to St. James' Gate brewery version brewer for Guinness and Dublin for a few years.
In that time the brewery here closed down and I was keeping an eye on what was happening with the guys, what they were doing. Mark acquired the brewery. I actually left the brewing business for a couple of years. I went off working for a dairy company close to my home because the beer industry in Ireland was on a downward slope. So I thought it was a good time to get out of it, but it was always a part of me that wanted to get back into it. So I was, by knowing the team here at Waterford, just some of them stayed on working for Mark, and I was keeping an eye on what was happening. And I got a phone call one day, here, look, mark Mark's looking for a head brewer. Would you be interested in coming back? And so it was actually a strange conversation. I wasn't really an interview with Mark, it was basically Mark telling me his idea and would I be interested in working there. And I think after about an hour of Mark telling me his ideas, do you want the job or not? I had no problem with that. I'll take the job. But he
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:10:59):
Had already clued in on you already,
Neil - Waterford (00:11:02):
But I suppose marks an infectious type of personality. Look, his idea is he's very driven. And I suppose I was in a job that was probably, as he say, a job for life was a brand new, 150 million invested into a dairy facility and had as a job for life. And it was a big risk for me to jump ship in a new job to come back to the, say, the distilling brewing, distilling industry. But it would've been the conversation Mark led me to say, look, this guy is doing something different here. This could be something big. This guy is a game changer. And his ideas and the way he's speaking about the product, he wasn't talking about next year, year after he was talking about this brand in 5, 10, 50, 20 years from now, he was building a legacy. And I just thought would've been, this is worth a chance. This is, Hey, come here. If I don't do this, this is something could regret for the rest of your life. So jumped on board. So that was in 2017, so haven't looked back.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:12:08):
It's really interesting to me, the distilleries that I've gone to that focus on hiring a brewer and specifically that concept and pay attention to the beer that they are creating before making the whiskey. Because I find those distilleries end up being the ones that I really like their product because the care has been taken from beginning to end and seems to bring out more of the flavor profiles. And it's like then you walk into a distillery where they're getting through the process just to get to the distilling process and you think, wow. And they're apologizing for when you taste their product before it goes in. It's like that's really telling to me in that way. And I know it's different philosophies too. Coming from Kentucky bourbon and seeing that there's a focus on it's our mash process, barley, I think really does drive you more towards needing that brewing expertise. Would you agree?
Neil - Waterford (00:13:22):
Yeah, yeah. No, definitely Drew, because look, the industry, the spirits industry is driven for the last 20, 30 years on yield and quantities and big industries, buying small distilleries and churning out volumes of spirit. And that's what the industry's about now and clear. There's nothing wrong with that. They do a very good job of getting consistent quality spirit and big volumes for the consumer because the market demands that that's what they want. The consumer wants consistency and their spirits, but it's on big volume basis. So we've stripped all that back and it's all about for what we're doing at water is about understanding flavor. So instead of looking at volume and yield, let's strip it all back and go back to the raw material and have a better understanding of at the end of the day, all our beers and spirits are made from the raw material, whether it's right, wheat, barley, mal, barely corn, whatever it is, it's grown in a field.
It's grown by a farmer. They spend 5, 6, 7, 8 months nurturing that crop in their soil. Different climates impact flavor of that raw material. So when it comes to the distillery, then for me it's about understanding, right? You've got a raw material now, how can you best bring this through the process to enhance or those flavors from that raw material? So it's understanding the malting process, it's understanding how brewing can impact the process fermentation. All these processes impact the flavor of the spirit before you even distill it. So basically, if you are ignoring all that, and as you said earlier on, all you're doing now is just producing spirit and enough of it. And then the hope that wood will take over and turn it into a decent whiskey or bourbon or whatever you're producing. And I suppose then in the industry, look, there's widely only E one 50 s widely used as well to standardized color and maybe a little bit of flavor. So that's probably a little bit of a cheat that's in the industry as well. So we've tried to strip all that back and go back to the production of single motor whiskey and understanding and educating the consumer as well about how important that part of the process is even before maturation.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:15:44):
Yeah. So when somebody's touring Waterford, you're you're probably not putting as much emphasis on that. How many times I hear that the barrel is 70, 80% of the character of that whiskey. And I mean, I have had some discussions here in the States where you hear well, barley really doesn't bring that much to the table. And then that's why I was so excited about coming to Waterford because I'm like, okay, I need somebody to show me. So then I have some ammunition when I come back that barley is not this one dimensional creature that is just there for conversion and really holds no other holds no flavor profile because I'm sitting there going, there's a whole scotch whiskey industry and now whiskey industries across the globe that are making single malts that are very diverse in flavor. Yes. And you can't put it all down to a barrel.
Neil - Waterford (00:16:42):
No, you can't. Like our idea is look, yeah, as you said, 80% of the barrel in gives it the whiskey. It's flavor, it our understanding is a hundred percent of the barrel influences the flavored nuMe mixed spirit. It influences. So if you use a poor cask or a mediocre cask, it's not going to give it a whole lot of flavor. But if you have a good quality nuMe spirit and you put that new me spirit, a good quality into a good cask, a good wood, but good providence, it will turn it into one day a very, very good whiskey or bourbon. But if you start messing with barrels and using poor quality barrels and then put 'em into other barrels, you are impacting flavor of the spirit because you're starting to use wood to influence the flavor.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:17:29):
Yeah. Well, and it was interesting because Jack Daniels just came out with their American single malt, and it's amazing because I tasted it before they put it into, they were just putting it in bourbon barrels and it wasn't that interesting. But then they put it in oso cherry barrels for three years, good quality barrels, and it was amazing. Like it was a head turner. And I really had not expected something like that to happen. But they went and sourced good quality barrels. And I told Chris Fletcher afterwards, I said, the thing is that barrel was the perfect choice because if you'd had gone cheap on the barrel, that whiskey would not have been as
Neil - Waterford (00:18:13):
Good. That's it. And look, the model approach we've taken in order for that, we understand how we've arrived at the quality of our new spirit by minding, nurturing a truda process. But then we start to nuec journey whiskey by putting it in very good quality barrels from day one. We will never finish in a certain type of barrel. We will put our starter maturation journey from day one in good quality tasks and we can talk about the types of tasks later on as well. So
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:18:43):
One other thing about just talking about the distillery before we move on and do a tasting here, while it is state of the art in one part of it, you still have a lot of that old equipment. And I wonder if, because the mash tons, were you working with those mash tons at all? These are huge in deep metal mash
Neil - Waterford (00:19:07):
To Yeah, so the old mash tons were bring from the old brewery. So if you can remember, the old brewery tour we'd done was, there's three mash tons in one of the rooms. So we don't use those mash duns anymore. We knew we use a mirror mash filter in the modern part of the brewery, but I would've worked on with the old, one of the old mash tons in the days Bruce Smick in one of them Mick's ale.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:19:33):
Okay. It's really interesting because when I think about Brook Claude and Mark's journey through the whiskey industry he had worked with 18 hundreds equipment at Brook Claude that they never really upgraded anything there. And then when I was doing the tour here, I saw a Portus mill, which I did not see anywhere else. Those are all over Scotland. But I didn't, this was the only one that I'd seen my whole time while I was in Ireland. And I'm like, he's a magnet for old equipment.
Neil - Waterford (00:20:04):
It would be a joy for me if we could get those back running again, look or there just for visuals at the moment. But someday, particularly our heritage, single malt whiskey would be brilliant if we could start doing brews in the old part of the brewery again. But we'll see how our single malt whiskeys perceived in the market over the next 10 years. And hopefully we'll get enough to invest in the old part of the brew old part of the brewery here.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:20:31):
Yeah, he actually brought two potstills with him too, as I understand.
Neil - Waterford (00:20:35):
He did. And there's a nice story behind that because then again, when I go back to the conversation about the look mark had in regards to acquiring the old brewery once, everything in place, he just needed two potstills to add to the current equipment at the plant here. But in 2016, with the increase in distilleries around the world globally in Scotland, Ireland, and Japan and America fore sites who build our stills, four sites are main manufacturers from Scotland who specialize in copper pot stills. There was a true year lead time on brand new stills from them at that period because they were so busy. So we couldn't wait three years to get new pot stills. So Mark mean mark, he had two pot sitting in storage. So one at the pot there wash still was sitting in the front garden Brook Latic distillery. And if anyone is familiar with the Brook Latic distillery in Isla old pictures, you can see a pot still in the garden with flowers coming out the line arm of it.
So part of his parting deal with Brook was he wanted to take the potstill with him and the spirit still that was sitting in warehouse. Now those potstills came from a distillery called Inver and Distillery in Scotland that went out of business in 1980s. And Mark acquired those potstills and he kept them as spare potstills in Sunday thinking that he might need 'em. And fast forward a few years, he did need 'em in Wallford. So four sites reconditioned these potstills, we installed them in 2000 early 2016, or sorry, end of 2016. That allowed us to distill very, very quickly in 2017. So we've used those potstills for the first five years of production and we replaced Potstills last summer. So identical. So fore sites came to site and made identical potstills to those in relief.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:22:39):
Wow. Yeah, I got to keep that consistency. That's
Neil - Waterford (00:22:43):
It. That's it.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:22:44):
So it's interesting though, because I scratching my head after I went back and looked at the pictures I took while I was there. Usually when you take copper outdoors, it tarnishes and turns green. So how did these survive outside for so long? Are they coated with something
Neil - Waterford (00:23:00):
They're coated? Yes. So they're coated with a just kind of a lacquer over 'em. So if you're out there, you'll see this kind of a green lacquer over 'em. And if they're, they're corded on the outside with them, so they hold their appearance lovely outside. So one is in the garden now in the distillery and the other one is inside a distillery on display. And they will be, so they're retired stills now, so they deserve to go into retirement. But I suppose the first six source, the spirited, all the releases today, how the spirit was distilled in those pots stills. So they're a very important part of our story.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:23:35):
As they say in Kentucky, they've been put out the stud
Neil - Waterford (00:23:38):
<laugh>. These ones aren't acquiring the money that the stud fees would acquire.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:23:46):
I hear ya. All right, well let's jump in first. And I decided it'd be kind of nice to take a journey through the distilling process and all the rest, but also take a walk through the whiskeys at the same time. So cool. The first one we're going to go, and I have to say I love the bottles in. My first thought was, okay, these are it's Waterford. They're coming Waterford Crystal, you've made a deal with them and they're making it. But these are actually coming from Las Vegas as I understand it.
Neil - Waterford (00:24:15):
No, Stoll in the uk sto. Oh,
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:24:19):
Neil - Waterford (00:24:19):
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:24:20):
Yes. I don't know where I read that then. Okay. <laugh>, beautiful bow.
Neil - Waterford (00:24:25):
Maybe you spent a night too many in Las Vegas through
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:24:28):
<laugh> maybe, or I was imbibing on too much water for it.
Neil - Waterford (00:24:33):
No, they come from a company called Stoles in the uk. So for anyone who who's not familiar with the Waterford brand or can't obviously can't see is it's a blue bottle, which is a bit unique and single malt whiskey.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:24:47):
So talk about the Arcadian series and the series that you guys produce, because this is the first thing that's going to happen when you pick up a Waterford box is if you flip it over on the back you better sit down and have some time. Cause there's some reading to do here. So kind of break it down for us, and this is great because it's some marketing here, but some transparency as well. And so kind of talk about what the Arcadian series
Neil - Waterford (00:25:15):
Is that is and look. And what we need to do is what we need to start this at the beginning, we talk briefly about single farm batches. So the conventional barley growers grow barely for us in number of different locations throughout Ireland in the different soil compositions and growing conditions, different micro climates. So we have the terroir difference from farm to farm. So depending on where the barley's grown, the flavor of the new bird is different depending on where it's grown. And all these impacts of soil and microclimate impact the flavor of the spirit. So that's the tower driven aspect of the single farm additions. So on our journey to find different flavors, drew, then what we do is we looked at at different farming techniques and how that may impact the flavor of our new spirit. So we looked at organic farming, we looked at and we've looked at biodynamic farming.
So again, a very French influenced concept. So terroir itself is a very French driven approach to, that's the way LA of the French vineyards grower grapes using the terroir approach. So in our approach to terroir, we've also looked at biodynamics, which is derived from, again, the way French vineyards grow their grapes. So a lot of the top wines, French wines in the world use biodynamic farming to grow their grapes. So basically what it is, is looking at the lunar calendar for sewing the seed and is looking at different, it's a bit erratic behavior or erratic concepts of burying cow horns in the ground and filling them up manure and using that as the preparation for the next to harvest season. So we were the first distillery in Ireland to produce a single mo whiskey using organic barely. And we were the first distillery in the world to produce a single MOT whiskey using biodynamically grown barley.
Okay. So we've called these the Arcadian series. So organic grain, biodynamic grain. We also look at all heritage varieties. So we've resurrected old varieties of barley that haven't been grown in Ireland for over a hundred years from the Department of Agriculture in Ireland. We've acquired seed, and over a number of years, we've grown enough seed to give to our farmers. So we've found barley's seed that has been grown in Ireland. The oldest we've found was 1895, which is old Irish variety. It's an old land race. So late last year we released our first heritage variety, and that's part again, Arcadian series. And also we have Pete at Whiskey. So again, we do it a little bit different in Waterford here where we source the Peter or the turf in Ireland, we sourced the barley in Ireland, we send it to Scotland for the ping process and then we bring it back. Okay. So it's as Irish as we can get it. Cause there's nowhere in Ireland that has the facility to Pete Malted barley. So we have to send it through our partner Minal. We send it to one of their plants, small things in Scotland to get repeated and then it comes back. So they're the four core ranges of our Arcadian series, organic, biodynamic, heritage varieties and or repeated range.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:28:35):
And so when I was there, you were actually going through and doing Goldthorpe was the heritage variety. Yes. And it was fun kind of watching this because I could tell you were kind of having to keep your attention in two different places at the same time because this is your first run of this stuff. So maybe before we get into a sip on this, talk a little bit about the difficulties that you run into in working with a grain like that that hasn't been used for so long that you're the Guinea pig here and you're figuring it all out on top of why those types of grain probably disappeared.
Neil - Waterford (00:29:17):
Yeah, looking, hey, your audience can't see me, man, losing a lot of hair the last few years with these ladies. But no, look, it's both challenging but very exciting as my background as a brewer to be given a project like this to identify or find all varieties of barley that brewers and distillers would've used back in the late 18 hundreds, early 19, 19 hundreds. Cause these are basically the land race varieties after time. So people before prohibition, this is maybe the style or flavor, the whiskey they were drinking back in late 18 hundreds, early 19 hundreds. So to get these varieties, grow them brew and distill them and make produce new mixed bird from these old varieties is fascinating. Now to answer your question, regards how difficult they are to use over the last 30, 40 years in the industry, 50 years even barely varieties have gone through breeding programs to improve the quality of the barity, to improve disease resistance, to improve yields for the farmer and both the breweries and distilleries.
So they've gone through breeding programs for decades to improve quality for everyone. So the farmer can yield better, obviously you get more money and a more consistent, and it goes down to the consumer wanting more consistent products. So they breed consistent growing varieties. So everything is consistent. Now our ideas are have they sacrificed consistency for flavor? So that's why we've gone back in time to find these old varieties. So back in the 1920s, thirties, these varies yielded very poorly for the farmer. They grew very tall, so they were susceptible for lodging, for disease. So every harvest year was a challenge for the grower. So they weren't guaranteed a yield from the crop for every crop here. So basically when the breeding programs come in, they made it more consistent for the farmers and it guaranteed them a crop of some sort for through the harvest year.
So when we resurrected the old heritage varieties, they're very difficult to grow. So we need the un yield about lucky to yield one ton an acre where conventional modern varieties grow can get achieve four to five ton an acre. So you need four times the land to grow the old varieties her for, if you were talk about organic farming, there was nobody growing organic, barely in Ireland when Waterford started. So the conversation had, we had to have a conversation with organic farmers. They were growing wheat and oats organically, but not barely because there was no market for it. Nobody wanted organic, barely. So we opened up conversations, the organic growers decided yet through crop rotation, they would throw barely in there and they would grow barely for Watford. So at the very beginning we got seven or eight farmers to grow organically, organic barley first us.
And what we had to do with those guys, if we had to mix their grain to make one batch because the yields very poorly from at the beginning. Now these guys over the last five, six years have continuously improved the yields organically. So we can see that the more they grow it, the better they're getting at it, the better yield they're getting, the better consistency through it. So it's make my life easier. As a brewer <laugh>, when that barley comes in, the biodynamic barley is again treated like the heritage for eighties. It's very, very difficult to grow using that farming technique. So it yields very, very poorly firm. Now the or the biodynamic farmers that we selected, three of them were organic farmers and one of 'em was a biodynamic farmer, but only dabbled in cereals. So what we did is we sent them to ssas and France to learn the biodynamic techniques from the grape growers and aas, they come back to Ireland and then they start growing barely using biodynamic techniques.
They weren't overly happy because at that time there was no certified biodynamic seed to grow. So they used conventional seed, but grew it using biodynamic techniques. All right. It was still certified. Biodynamic bio meter is the organization who certifies the farm, the boardings and the distillery to produce a bio and whiskey. So it was approved that the biodynamic growers could grow conventional varieties. But after two or three years, the guys didn't feel comfortable using cause using modern conventional varieties. So what we did is we started our heritage program where we were looking at old varieties and we were growing them up using conventional techniques, farming techniques. So what we did is we actually gave the guys one of the heritage varieties to grow. So one of the old varieties of barley. So we gave that to the biodynamic growers and they have seen vast improvements.
So the old varieties seem to grow better using the biodynamic techniques because the old varieties, the barely sits taller in the field. The root, the roots are longer because their roots are scavenging for more healthier soil. So the biodynamic farming techniques tend to have more healthier loose soil. So the root structure for the baric tends to grow better using those techniques. So we kind of stumbled on that approach. Biodynamic farming, we resurrected all varieties that's given to all varieties to the biodynamic lads to grow. Nice. We're happy, we're a happy, and the more we do this, the better we're getting. So I suppose what I would be saying, there's nothing stopping any other brewery distillery of taking this approach. It is an expensive way to do it because you pay a lot more for the barley, you, you need more land to grow it. So you do have to pay more for the raw material. But the flavor of the spirit is, it's secondary, it's fantastic.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:35:27):
I think this is what a lot of people miss and they'll see, they'll look at a shelf and they'll see a price tag on the shelf. And if they don't really know what's going on behind the scenes and what they're actually purchasing, and the fact that, I mean we talk about here in America, if you buy an American single malt, they're going to be at scotch and Irish, single malt prices, they're going to be higher prices even though they're coming from the US because they subsidize corn. So corn is inexpensive. So you can make bourbon at a nice low cost, but once you start dipping into barley, you get more expensive. And the same thing is happening with you except now we're talking about it. Even at another level, if you're getting a quarter of the product out of what you're farming, those farmers have to charge more to be able to do that, that cost is going to come to you. And so it's this idea that people see a price tag and say, oh, they're just elevating the price because they want to see themselves as premiere. But it's n not even necessarily that what it is is it's just generally cost structures and trying to this is how the system works. When you have to pay a lot for something to create something, it's going to elevate the price of your final product
Neil - Waterford (00:36:55):
And that's it. And Drew, to be honest, I suppose the pricing of our single malt whiskeys is in the near enough to the premium level. But we've tried not to put the extra cost of the heritage organic and biodynamic raw material on whiskey. It may be 10, $15 more than your single farm, single malts. But that's not a true reflection for the actual cost of the raw material to us and the process difficulties. We're paying a lot more for the raw material. We're getting awful lot less yield spirit, but that cost is not directly home back to consumer. It's a bit more expensive, but not a true reflection of how expensive it is. But we want to be fair to consumer and give them a chance to taste these single malt whiskeys and make their own, educate 'em on what we're doing and let them make their own mind up of single malt whiskey versus single malt whiskey, but using different farming techniques and maybe more sustainable farming techniques and the production of our whiskeys.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:38:01):
And I had a friend of mine come over and we were doing a tasting and he's been eyeing Irish whiskey, but he's not kind of dived in full force and he is a scotch drinker and he tasted the organic, which we're about to taste right now. And he said, wow. He said, I what? I would easily pay a hundred dollars for this. He said, it stands up to what I've tasted in terms of scotch and it's not actually that old of a was this three to four years old? Yes, probably
Neil - Waterford (00:38:38):
Whiskey. Our organic is only four years old, just four years old. Four years old, okay. Organic 1.1 or 2.1 is four and a half years old. But yeah, I suppose our whiskeys all, albeit that they're young, they're coming across as a much older whiskey is because of the way we process it and because of the type of barrel we use from day one. And that's what then blends to the style and the flavor of our whiskeys. But that only needs to tell you that after 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 years old, our whiskey is going to be better. Yeah, it's still very young whiskey. You can still taste that new make spirit from it. So while we're talking here, we might have a little drum of organic. Really.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:39:20):
Absolutely. Well, and what I love too is that from brook laude over to Waterford this 50 A B V I think is a excellent point. I've been saying a lot lately that I love that point between about 45 and 50% A B V seems like a sweet spot for a lot of whiskey.
Neil - Waterford (00:39:42):
For me it is. And look at 50%. So I look and if you like drinking whiskey of that strength, it gives you that choice. But if you want to add a little drop of water, then to bring out more flavors, you can do that and bring it down to maybe 48, 49. Yeah, it gives you options.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:39:58):
You don't have to get very close to this glass to start picking up the sense of it. Some whiskeys you got to stick your nose all the way down into it to get anything out of it. The orchard fruits on this and kind of that orange note come out really, really quickly.
Neil - Waterford (00:40:15):
Yeah, I find with the organic and it's not very multi sweet, as you said, rip fruits, the orange peel is coming out for me. The organic single malt whiskey is a very good drink for, it's a lot for me. It's an easy go-to single malt whiskey. For me, when I'm explaining that tastings, if I was new to whiskey or new to Irish whiskey, this is a very good start bite. It is very, very floured fruity as well. And some gentle notes. It's not overly heavy and spice. It's a little spicy but not overly spicy and not overly harsh. It's a good start
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:40:54):
Bite. Yeah. So what's interesting too is that I actually pull a little bit of, it throws people off if you say smokey, but there is some kind of a earthy smoke note in this. Where do you think that comes from?
Neil - Waterford (00:41:08):
So what we do, we have our own sensory panel here. I suppose just for your audience there all what I'll do is explain the cask makeup of this single mal whiskey. So we treat every single farm batch the same. So whether it's conventional, single farm, organic, biodynamic heritage or ped, the new mix spirit from all these single farm batches go into the same four types of wood. So the spirit that we get, so for example, we take 100 ton of barely from a farmer, it goes through the process and we will get approximately 40,000 liters. Spirit. That 40,000 liters of spirit is put into four different types of wood. 50% is put into ex B casks. 20 20% is put into virgin US oak, 20% into French casks, French oak. And 10% of my maths goes into vdn sweet wine cherry casks. All right. Okay.
It's left mature in them for the period of time. And then what Ned, our head distillery does is he puts the four different types of casks together and releases as a single farm batch. So the organic whiskey we have here has been matured in the four different types of cask I've noted. And it's the same with all our other whiskeys. So that for me, the smokiness when we were on sensory panel here, and we tend to pick up a lot on the biodynamic whiskey and organic, a little bit of smoky and it's, or you hit the nail on the header, that earth flavor from it, earth and herbal flavors, no one's come true. A little bit more on those organic and biodynamic on bardi whiskeys.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:42:49):
Yeah, it's really interesting. And like I say people, there are people who say, I don't want anything ped. And it's the, it's not that type of a smoke. No, it's correct. As we say, a lot of people lean on campfire. I guess if
Neil - Waterford (00:43:04):
I were husky, like a roasted husk or roasted barely kind of north, yes, very light in the background.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:43:12):
Now I notice on the pallet this goes right in. And again, we're definitely into the citrus notes. I get a grapefruit yes note there. Lemon zest kind of knocks you over a little bit and yet there's a little nutty character. But the thing that really kind of stood out to me was this peppery note, this white pepper note that stays all the way from when it first hits your pallet all the way to the finish. Usually what I find is that white pepper, or when I get a pepper note, it's in one part. It's either in on the pallet and it's not on the finish or it's on the finish, but it's not on the pallet. But this, it just drives all the way through the experience.
Neil - Waterford (00:43:50):
And that's a common trade in a lot of our whiskey. And that's down to the style of spirit we do. That's the way we distill it with double distillation process. It tends to give that oily spirit, it gives that peppery notes and long lasting mouth feel and all our spirits. And that's the reason we do it double distillation to ensure we get that style of spirit, that long lasting mouth feel pepper and spice notes on it. And then the barley, barley, I suppose the double distillation liberates the flavors from the barley was those multi flavors, herbal, earthy flavors come out June by the way, we distill even
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:44:29):
Further. It's really interesting because when you're talking about rye whiskey or a Kentucky whiskey that will kind of stay and be warm in your chest, this just keeps the back of your mouth kind of heated stay. Exactly. It is. It's really, really interesting. Yeah. And then as I was tasting yesterday, which always happens, I'll go in and I'll do a tasting and then after the tasting is over and I've described what I got out of it, something else pops up and I was getting a nice little mint and cocoa kind of note. So the complexity in this is what really surprises me for a four year old whiskey. I mean that it has all of those different, and I would imagine, and maybe tell us where you think it comes from, but I mean using four different types of barrels plus using this type of grain that we're probably not familiar with, our palates are not familiar with.
Neil - Waterford (00:45:27):
And I suppose the organic whiskey we're tasting there, as I alluded to earlier on, is that at the beginning we didn't have enough organic growers to get a single farm batch from, so we compiled seven growers together. So it's like a cove of organic growers mixed together, the grain mixed together. Now LA later this year, we're actually releasing our first organic single farm batch later this year. So it'll be very interesting like our other whiskeys, which are single farm origin batches and conventional boards, we'll have our first organic single farm batch. So that will really give the true understanding of what organic barely from that particular field taste like. The farmers that it has now enough land to grow enough barely fur us organically. So we, we've taken that in brew, distilled it, matured it for three, four years and we'll release a single farm organic later this year. This one here, the complexity is in there because the OR farms are mixed together, the organic farms are mixed together and the combination of the four different types of cask. But when we're tasting the cove later on, we'll talk about complexity.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:46:34):
Very good. Well, and let's talk now about your process because again, this has to add to the cost of what you're doing because you're having to basically make sure these farms and that you are keeping them totally isolated through the entire process to be able to do the single farm. So kind of walk us through first of all how you warehouse this stuff. Okay. Because I'm assuming that most of the warehouses out there are used to just batching them all together. So you know, had to come up with a new system,
Neil - Waterford (00:47:13):
Swear drawn, nice pull spoke about the providence or traceability is lost after harvest. And all the barley variety, it's variety mixed together. So if you have lauretta as a prominent variety in Ireland at the moment, so if you have 200 farmers, tillage farmers in Ireland that grows laureate barley, it comes to the merchant and it's thrown into one store and all mixed together, the farmer gets paid and he goes off and that's the last he hear hears of it. So what Waterford do is then we have over 110 farms to date that we've sourced our barely from, whether it's conventional, biodynamic, organic heritage, we have over 110 to pick from when it comes to the harvest. I will select the best 35 to 40 farms every year based on the quality of the barley. So I will select X amount of organic farms, X amount of biodynamic, and maybe 20, 25 conventional farms.
I look at the quality at post harvest and then I will take the barley in. So what happens is we request our merchants, so mech, our merchant is he's two brothers, John and Dennis Dalton. They're situated about 30, 40 kilometers north of distillery here on the way to Dublin. And at harvest the Dalton brothers sender trucks out to the farms. The barley is lauded at source at the field after harvest. And the lares come back to the merchant. And they have built a purpose-built warehouse first, which we call the barely cathedral. And the barely from each single farm is stored in individual bays at this warehouse. All right, so we can stand over the hold the trace and the providence from barely from field to field. So there's no cross-contamination from farm to farm. The barely comes from the farm, it's dried and it's stored in its individual in individual bay.
So the barely stays in this barely cathedral for a number of months until the barley turns from dormancy. So now what needs to happen is the barely needs to go through the malting process. So we take 120 ton approximately from every single farm, hundred 20 tons. So four Larry loads, go to the farm, bring it to the warehouse, and it's store there. And then when it comes to malting four Larry loads empty a single bay and they deliver the barley to the markings. So we use a company called Nch Malt to process our baring. So it goes through the malting process that's happens at their facility, which is in a tie in county there. So it's halfway in between Dublin and Waterford city, if you're familiar with the geography of Ireland. So it's about 70 kilometers from Blackford City. These guys maed for the industry, they maed for breweries, distilleries, it's a big operation.
But Waterford distillery don't want to be mixed into the grand scheme of their normal production. So what happened is we asked him, look, how are you guys going to mold 120 ton of barley from a single farm through your malting facility because they malt batches of thousands of tons in one go. So luckily for us, these guys had a test malt plant called Bobi plant, which is beside their main plant, which caters for hundred 20 ton. So that's why we base our capacity on their capacity to mold 120 tons of barely. All right. So that's why we select 120 ton from a farm because that's the capability of the Malthouse. And that allows me to process approximately eight brews or 40,000 liters of spirit. But the model is based on the capacity of the maltings. So these guys can malt our batches separately outside the main plant. And once it goes through the malting process, the single farm, the batches delivered to me at water for distillery here where we get approximately 75 to 80 ton of Barry delivered. Cause you lose quantity through the mal process, through screenings and moisture and other factors. So we would get 75 to 80 ton malted barely delivered from each single farm. And I would do that 35 to 40 times every year.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:51:25):
I was going to say, well how long is it does the malting process take per farm?
Neil - Waterford (00:51:30):
It takes about three to four days. So typically now we request, like the scotch industry, we request our monster not to use glic acid. So gibber acid is an enzyme used to speed up the malting process. So we ask not to use that cause we want the natural marketing. All right, so the barley is taken from our warehouse, it's brought to the maltings, it goes through the steeping process for us. So basically what you're doing is here, the barley has gone asleep after harvest. So it's in sleeping mode, it's, it's not doing anything. And when the barley returns from dormancy, it's now ready to go through the malting process. So the first step of malting is steeping. So what you do is you steep the barely in water, so you're increasing the moisture content. So basically the barely tins it's growing against back out in the field and it's in high moisture substance.
So you're steeping the barely increasing the increase the moisture to allow it grow again. So now you remove the water from steeping. That takes, you could do one or two steeps depending on the quality of the barley. If it's heritage, old heritage for eighties, it's the uptake of water is more difficult cause the barley size is smaller, so you might have to do two steepings. So it's takes a little bit longer for organic biodynamic and heritage varieties. So after steeping and remove the water, it then goes through germination. Germination basically is growing the bardi grain. So rootlets start to grow on the grain enzymes start to be developed. This, these enzymes you need for fermentation. So this is where you need enzymes for alcohol production. So it goes through the germination. Once the enzymes are developed, now you need to lock in those enzymes. So it goes through the drying process.
So you dry the grain, reduce the moisture back down to the three 4% moisture, and that kills the rootlets and locks in those enzymes you need. Now if you're doing a peed whiskey, this is where the ping happens. You blow smoke up through the barely bed at this process. So this is anyone who's interested in ped whiskeys or scotched ped whiskeys or the Waterford ped whiskey should we have Now that's where your smokiness or phenols is introduced into the process. You light a turf fire on the outside of the kiln. The kiln is where you dry the barley, you blow smoke up through the barley bed for a number of hours. Phenol content end will stick to the barley. And then you have a smokey peated whiskey. In Ireland, we don't have that facility so we just use gas fired heater to dry our barely. And then the barely sent to the distillery here where we process it through brewing and fermentation.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:54:16):
It's interesting because I like to let people know when they're going through Scotland, when they see those pagodas and they're walking into the visitors center, that visitors center likely, if it's an old distillery, was the malting floor where they were doing that malting. So that heat could escape up through the pagoda,
Neil - Waterford (00:54:37):
But Exactly, yeah,
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:54:38):
Yeah. And so it's interesting when you're going around Ireland and you're looking, you don't see a lot of pagodas around because there's
Neil - Waterford (00:54:45):
Not bushels. I think bush mills have one. Do they bush mills and an art bush mills?
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:54:49):
They have one. Well, and the one attmore do those? Yes, they have three of them, but of course that's a brand new building. So we know that. Yes, yes.
Neil - Waterford (00:54:58):
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:54:58):
That wasn't malting. But yeah, they're around here there, but very rare in Ireland. So once they get into the facility, how do you keep I do you basically get a load in and go right to distilling it?
Neil - Waterford (00:55:11):
Yeah, so we have bins here that we can hold two, three single farms in. So basically what happens now is I have 75 ton of barley delivered. What I do it then is I do eight brews. So every second day I'll do a pair of brews and we goes to the milling mash conversion mash separation to mural mash filter. So this is the key to unlocking the flavors. The brewhouse is the key. So you, at the very start of this interview, you asking me about brew a brewer being implied by a distillery. So this is where unlocking of the flavors happens. If you don't do it right in the brewhouse, you may forget about flavor and forget about yield because you just won't get the consistency you want. So what happens here is because every single farm I need to treat differently because barely comes from different tower or the barely has either grown in an or different farming technique, whether it's organic or heritage or biodynamic farming, that batch of Barry is going to react differently for every new batch I get in.
So I have a very short window to get the recipe. I have eight brews. So typically the first brew of a new batch is where to refocus on you. You check the mill gap settings, you check the recipe stand times in your mash conversion to ensure you're breaking down those enzymes correctly, to give you the proper enzymes for fermentation. If you don't have the proper temperature stand in your mass conversion, you won't break down those starters into sugars that you need for fermentation. You won't have the enzymes you need for fermentation. So every batch, single batch has to be treated differently. You cannot treat a conventional batch barely the same as an organic or a heritage. And you can't even treat each single farm batch that's growning conventionally the same. Because whether I take barley from county Donal or county Galloway or county Coney growing under different towers, they all react differently.
Subtle differences, but they act differently. So I have to tweak or alter the process accordingly as the batch comes in. So typically after one or two bruises, you get it right and the recipes loaded in the middle of that settings are correct. And we extract a flavor to our tower, our extract extractor, which is our mural mash filter. So basically in the industry, normally you would use a louder ton or a fo pot mash to separate your grain from your wort. We choose to use a Miura mash filter cause that's what we inherited from the old brewery, but it's perfect for single mal whiskey production.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:57:48):
Neil - Waterford (00:57:50):
Yep. So after ferm, after the brewer house, then it goes to fermentation. And again, this is a critical step of the process and understanding how fermentation can influence flavor. So this is where we liberate the flavor. So we purposely do a long fermentation, a five, six day fermentation. Typically if you're just producing alcohol, you do a two or three day fermentation, produce alcohol, bang it up to the stills, get your alcohol, and away go. But we leave it purposely five days. So we introduce a secondary malac fermentation. So what happens here is you're promoting more floured, fruity Romans, and the style of your spirit changes by doing a longer fermentation. So we feel it liberates the flavors from the bar better by doing that long secondary fermentation.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (00:58:43):
This is part of the reason why when I instruct people in my book about doing tours and questions to ask. Fermentation is a really interesting thing because I mean, 72 hours I think is barely standard across the industry. And then, so it's fun to hear the ones that ferment longer because that concept of pulling out more of those fruity notes, it's a way to really get to know your whiskey and understand where those different components of your whiskey in that tasting come from and what to anticipate.
Neil - Waterford (00:59:19):
And that's it. That's it. And by the way, you ferment will give you a certain style of whiskey, but then after fermentation, yes, you now have a wash, but the way you distill now is critical. So that's the third piece of the jigsaw. The distillery is yes. Now you've focused in on the brewing aspect, and if you've extracted those flavors from the barley, now you've treated them through a long malolactic fermentation. You've got a flour fruity style of wash. Now the decision is do you do a double or triple distillation, or how quick do you distill or how slow do you distill? Or what type of steel do you use? What shape is your liner? Now this influences the style of your spirit. So again, purposely we've chosen a double distillation. A lot of people think that Irish whiskey has to be triple distilled, that that's not true.
That has come from, because traditionally for the last 8,000 years there has been only two to three distilleries in Ireland and they have triple distilled. So the style of Irish whiskey has been always triple stilled. But yeah, you can do a double triple distillation. We've chosen a double distillation because we feel that lends better to the style of whiskey we want. So we do a double pot still distillation. So that long fermentation is now to get that up to the pot still, or sorry, the wash still where're now. That's the first step of enhancing the flavors, liberating flavors through the wash distillation. So we would run a charge up to the wash till we produce a spur around 26% A B V into our low wines and then that's sent into our spirits till now. What we do differently here is we actually roof slow down our pot still distillation.
We really, really ramp it down cause we're in no rush here. We're not interested in yields. So it doesn't matter how much spirit we get up it. What we're interested in is given the best quality of spirit. So we slow it down. The potstills we have are designed to run around 1500 liters an hour. We run 'em at 400 liters an hour. So we ramp them down by it hard. What happens there by doing that is that the vapors that you produce during the spirit distillation, they have more copper contact because they're heavier vapors in there and they kind of, a reflux effect happens where the heavier vapors fall back down and the, there's co more contact with the copper, more contact with the lime arm, line arm. And then we do our cuts at the safe. So we call it a floating cut for each distillation.
So the distiller determines the cuts for every distillation. So the heads we collect into our low wines and then the distiller determines where the cuts should be. So when he cuts the hearts or when he or she cuts the tails so that's the floating cut, we would be on hearts. We collect hearts for about four or five hours for each distillation. For a single farm we would do 20 distillations. It takes about eight days to distill a single farm. So we distill 20 different wash runs because we have a limited space in our pot stills. So you can only send charges up at a time. So we send 20 charges from our wash back up and after eight days we collect about 30 to 40,000 liters. So just for numbers wise, just for yield purposes so the consumer can get an idea, we would expect about 35 40,000 liters from a conventional farm. If we're doing biodynamic or organic, we would probably get 25,000 liters and if we're doing heritage, we'd be lucky to get 20,000 liters. So half wow. Half the yield. But for me it's just managing those heritage organic batches through the process, just getting them through the brew house so we have liquid to ferment and then once we have a successful fermentation, you just bringing through the process as you have every other single farm.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:03:16):
Well you gave me a real eye opener when we were going over there and you were showing how the cuts happened and we'll jump into that here in just a moment. But I want to actually go in and do a tasting. Yeah, cool. Since we're talking all about single farms, so give me the name of this single farm cause I'm not going to butcher the name.
Neil - Waterford (01:03:36):
So this is a single farm called rat clock. Rat clock. Clock. Okay. Rat clock. Yep. So on the back of the bottom we have a description of the farm. So rat clock is the farm name. This is where the barley was grown. Right? Okay. So actually a rat in the Irish language is a fort in English expression. So the rath clock, it's spelled r a t h clock, not as a clock for time but clock C L O t h. Yeah. So the wrath is a stone. Okay. So obviously there was a stone Ford on that land or in arounds that land back in times gone by. So there was a fortress of some sort. So
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:04:19):
Is Well I was going to say this is what I love about traveling around Ireland and all the names and you start learning all of these little prefixes mean in terms of kerik is rock I think.
Neil - Waterford (01:04:35):
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:04:37):
Kill is oh no, I'm on the spot at the moment. Is that, that's not hill or something is it?
Neil - Waterford (01:04:47):
Hill is a land area. Is an area, it's a, it's not a fortress but it's a land area. I think I right, okay. Could be wrong
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:04:56):
There. Yeah. So you kind of get a description of what the area is like by whatever the name is. And the one I always have the hardest time with is Locke lock because it looks like log and I keep wanting to say log.
Neil - Waterford (01:05:10):
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:05:11):
That's why I let you
Neil - Waterford (01:05:12):
Now Locke is and a massive water. So a lock or a lake or whatever. So that's the beauty about these single farms. Not to be going off the point here, but the beauty of these single farms is that if you have somebody of Irish heritage in America or across the world who might be looking for a single malt whiskey that maybe the barley was grown near enough to their home townland or whatever, this gives them an opportunity of, or even their county, oh my ancestor was from county Waterford or McKenney or Donal or Galway. We have sourced barely from right around Ireland. So it gives the consumer up. I wonder what a single whiskey tastes like from barely groan in a farm that's 10 miles from where my great-grandparents were born. It just gives them a sense of place maybe, you know what I mean? And
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:06:05):
One that went through a proper process rather than if they're getting patin or something like that. 'em an aged or whatever it may be.
Neil - Waterford (01:06:14):
Or a distillery that might be in that location. But they're buying the raw material from the UK or Europe. So yeah.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:06:20):
Neil - Waterford (01:06:21):
Barely the raw material wasn't grow. But that's another story. That's another story.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:06:25):
Very, very true. Yeah. I know I've talked to some scotch people who are like well we get our grain from France. And so there's this idea that oh well everything in scotch comes from Scotland, but that's not true.
Neil - Waterford (01:06:40):
Not true, not true. And
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:06:41):
Yet we try to hold, we try to hold everybody else to that a standard that even Scotland doesn't really
Neil - Waterford (01:06:48):
And look and I think what needs to happen in Irish whiskey, I only talk about Irish whiskey here because it's suppose to be involved in it that there needs to be some sort of legislation for maybe even a percentage of the raw material has to be grown in that country. It only makes sense to call it Irish whiskey. I think raw material should be grown in that country for that. That's just saying it straight out. It can't call it Irish whiskey. The raw material is from outside of Irish coming
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:07:14):
From elsewhere. Well look,
Neil - Waterford (01:07:15):
Yeah, that's the way the industry, but things need to change for that legislation to come in. But look, hopefully down the line, even if a statement of 20% of the raw material in this whiskey comes from the country of origin, I think that needs to happen. But look, we're true to a word. We will only use 100% Irish growing barley. If for any reason there's a particular poor harvest or a pot harvest and there's not enough grain to purchase, we will just reduce our production. We won't be tempted even to purchase raw material from outside fire.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:07:48):
And you're doing talk about the numbering system here. 1.1. Okay. So what do these numbers stand for?
Neil - Waterford (01:07:57):
So what we're drinking here is rat lock edition 1.1. Alright, so this is a single farm whiskey saw the barely from this whiskey was growing at one farm, 1.1 edition. 1.1 is the first release from that farm. So this was just a four year old whiskey. Now if you were drinking a 1.2, what means is that's a later addition from the same stock of whiskey, from the same distillation year, same crop, year of barley, but maybe six years older. All right. If you drank a 1.3, it might be one year older. Now we're starting to go away from the numbering system over the next few years. We would go gradually get away from that. Basically at the start of our journey, we released a number of single farm additions to give consumer idea what single malt whiskey tastes from each single farm. But as we get more and more I suppose producing whiskey, we would tend to do more coves, which we want to later on and only one or two more single farm releases every year. But the one point ones and one point twos is what we wanted to do is we wanted to see what the difference in flavor was after maybe six months after the first release or a year after the first release release. So 1.2 is an older expression of whiskey than 1.1 from the same single farm. Hopefully that explains it.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:09:22):
Yes. It's interesting to see how because we see these numbers on there and I know Brooke Claude's system with Okta more and the way that they utilize that, they were using the second number as what type of cask. Yes. Is it being aged in? Correct. Correct. So wondered if that pulled through. This is a really interesting nose versus what we had before. I mean I tend to get a little bit more like a baking spice kind of thing going on
Neil - Waterford (01:09:53):
More Christmas cake and a dried food spice for
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:09:58):
Me. And the mint mint freshness that comes out of that as well.
Neil - Waterford (01:10:03):
Yeah. Quite little bit of white pepper on the nose there as well. Not as much as the first one, but for me on the pallet is very, very barb and castor. A lot of vanillas in there. Mm-hmm. A lot of sweetness in there.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:10:22):
Toffy and nuttiness.
Neil - Waterford (01:10:23):
So it'd be interesting to see, I have just for the audience there, in the back of every bottle we have a tower war code. We call it a tower war code that you can input that number into our website and it'll give you all the information you require in regards to how this bottle of whiskey was made. And included in the information is the percentage of casks that were used. Now I haven't looked at it for this testing, but I'm presuming that there might have been a bigger percentage of bourbon casks used in this single farm.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:10:55):
Neil - Waterford (01:10:56):
Expression. There is a order of sherry on it as well. You can get that mm-hmm. Sherry cast coming through on it as well. But it's still for me, there's still a little tint of new makey spur coming through on it, which is okay,
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:11:11):
I noticed that. And that's one of those, when you're doing the nosing and ta, I call it kind of a flavor that comes through whenever I can taste a little bit of that new make in there, I
Neil - Waterford (01:11:21):
Suppose after my be, it is a young spirit, but if you visually look in or your audience can't see this, but the legs on that glasses fantastic. The oils are just crawling down the glass. And that lends to the way we distill it and the type of we use that just demonstrates the way the, that's the style of spirit. We want the legs, we want load aisles in there. And we we're getting that. And that's by, that's achieved by the way we distill.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:11:50):
And it's really interesting that when you were walking me through, we actually stopped by and we took a new make sample off of the still at one percentage and then we came back and did a tasting again off of that still a little later on. And I mean that was an eyeopener for me. There's a lot of distilleries that are automated. Yeah, they will say they take over particular at a particular point some of them when they're doing their cuts. But what you showed me was how once it's going from the heads into the hearts, there's really a critical point yes in there where you need to grab because that's where it really kicks in. That's where the spirit's really coming through.
Neil - Waterford (01:12:36):
That's it. And you don't want to collect too much heads either. Cause it will put that tattiness kind of very fainty soy flavor onto your spirit as well. And the same on the opposite end, if you cut too far into the tails, if you don't leave it on hearts too long, you'll have that sovereignty fainty flavors coming through as well. So the cuts are very, very important. And to your point there of every time you go back and taste the hearts, it tastes a little bit different. So what we do is we mix all the hearts together obviously as a single batch and then send it out to the maturation awareness where they fill the cask. So you really only get a true representation of that single farm once all the new makes spirit or the hearts is collected together because there is different fractions from the hearts once you collected, it's when that bulk spirit from one single farms put together, it's where you really get an idea of what that single farm taste like.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:13:33):
What was the coming from a brewing background and now all of a sudden you're attaching that to distilling. Did your process change at all in terms of, because now you're preparing for another step?
Neil - Waterford (01:13:48):
Not really. It wasn't difficult to, for the conversion look, obviously the brewing and fermentation and they're all raw material management was something I was used to anyway. The whole distillation piece, to be honest, it was fine taking it over. I suppose what would've been new to me was the whole cask management and the whole maturation side of it. As long as you understand how distillation impacts the flavor, once you understand that it's easy to apply then what you've learned to how you distill. And Ned, our head distiller, has a full grasp on how, and he was very good teacher to learn from. So Ned was, and he, Ned teaches our distillers and how to make the cuts as well. And then with our sensory panel here, we have a full understanding on how the cuts should be made based on sensory analysis. So that side of it was fine.
Yet what the part of the industry was new to me that had to do a lot of digging on, and I suppose self, self-teaching was the whole mask manage cask management and the influence of wood and the importance of using good wood. And to be honest, drew, I'm still learning today, I'm still learning about brewing, I'm still learning about fermentation because every time we get these older, newer varieties and different farming techniques, it's just total education every day in here's an education. And that's what the beauty about this job every day is different. Going out talking to the farmers was a whole side of the business. I just did not see, before working for a big corporate business, you just did not see that. You saw a truck door barely coming in and that was it. You never knew where it came from. You didn't know who it come from.
But here we bring the farmers in, we invite them into the distillery. I go out to the farms, I talk to 'em, we talk about the soil, they talk about tur war every day. They don't use the word teir, but they talk about that every day. They talk about the soil, they talk about the ditches around the field, they talk about the oak trees, how that influences the grow to the barley. They talk about the microclimate in their particular area. They talk about terroir. They don't know what they're talking about, but they do. So it's a thing, we shouldn't ignore it, we just don't talk to the farmers enough in this industry. That's the problem. We're we're driven by marketing and other stuff driving products. We totally bypassing where our grain comes from.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:16:25):
Well, there's a need to optimize if you're going to be trying to produce something from a volume standpoint. And so I think that is, and trying to cut your costs and do the rest to try to stay within line of what your marketing department feels they can sell your whiskey for and promote your whiskey for. And so yeah, it would seem that, and also the larger the organization the more disconnected you're going to be because there's going to be departments for these different things. So it's really interesting to note that you are at a point where you really have to, if you're going to play the terroir game, you're definitely going to have to know more about what your farmers are struggling with. That's it. And what they're dealing with, that's it. Or if you want to introduce a new grain to them, how to work with them to maybe convince them to try that out because it's a risk to them too. And
Neil - Waterford (01:17:28):
That's it. And it's educating them. Then the issues we have at the maltings and distillery, now the malting is a complete different side of the business. Nobody talks about either. And they have their issues with malting and their own costs. And look, we're in the middle of an energy crisis now, and we all need to understand the issues that each part of the process have, the cost the farmer has where if he's a convention farmer with fertilizers, running, tractors, running a farm that're always constantly given out the prices of barely and raw material. We need to understand why it's impacting price of barley's impacting them because if it continues the way it's going, a lot of even, I was going off the track here now, but I was taught to one of the farmers there only on Monday and he was explaining to me that he may not be able to grow for us next year.
And I said, what's up John? He goes, I'm after I'm renting out half of my farm to a local dairy farmer because I, it's not sustainable for me to grow cereal anymore. So I'm actually going to rent half my farm out to a dairy farmer because dairy in Ireland is flying and the herds are getting bigger and more milk is needed. So it's easier for him to rent his farm out to a dairy farmer than continue growing barley. If we don't address that issue, where are we going to be in five or 10 years time? We may not have enough cereal to produce our whiskeys or our spirits. Or you will be buying your raw materials from one source in middle of Europe or somewhere that's made a mass production and you'll lose full providence off of your raw material and something needs to happen. Something needs to give here.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:19:14):
Yeah. Well let's talk a little bit more about when I'm walking through the distillery and you had two pieces of equipment there that I, well I had seen one before. There's another distillery in Ireland that has a mash filter, which is klar. But those are the only two that I've seen that had that mash filter. And you were running through that goldthorpe at that particular time and talking about learning about a grain and seeing, because we talk about here whenever people try to distill oats, oats are very hard to work with. They clump up and they clog up your system and all that. So you seem to be having that same concern with the goldthorpe barley as it went through. How did that process go for you and is this generally something that you go through maybe once a year or is this the learning process or is this something that after a while you kind of go or that actually hands happens every time you go through and try to distill something like that?
Neil - Waterford (01:20:31):
Every heritage variety that comes in or which will be two or three times a year. So every year we do two different heritage varie. So this year we're going to do sprout variety called sprout archer and we're going to do all Irish. Okay. So when those two batches come into me, even though we processed all ours last year, this year I'm going to have to be all over those brews. So we have a mirror of mash filter as you explained earlier on, if you use oats, orry or wheat, you normally have a cereal cooker that cooks the grains that are very difficult to work with. And then you go through with a louder ton after that, I don't have that luxury. So with our combined hydro wet mill, which mills using a disc mill, so we don't have a hammer mill or a roller mill, we do a wet milling under anaerobic condition.
So it removes the dust and you mill using water. Then you have your mashed ton where the mash sits in. And I explained earlier on, if you don't get the recipe right here, the correct stand temperature times, we do an infusion temperature mashing. If you don't get that recipe, we have a mirror, a mash filter which separates the grain or the mash from the clear word. So we pump it through a plate and framed mash filter, we call it our terra extractor. If you don't get the milling right, if you don't get the stand temperatures right, you will block that filter. And what happens when you block that filter, your brew is just finished, you'll just have to dump it to drain. So there's a little bit of nervousness when it comes to these old varieties or organic or biodynamic varieties. You always run the risk of blocking that mash filter.
Now it's perfect for conventional molds. So it's just to be aware and it's look today, now I've got every blue through it. One instance a few years ago we had an issue but not major, but typically it goes through because the barley is high beat lu and so it's going very gummy and gluey there. There's low friability on some of the batches, so it's very hard to milk like milling stones. If I had a cereal cooker, maybe it might be easier with these varieties, but we don't. So you just have to go through the process. We don't add enzymes to our brewing mash to promote enzyme activity. We rely on the natural enzymes within the mal barely to react with the stand temperature. So we're really relying on those correct temperatures to break down those long short chain enzymes because we don't have the facility to use enzymes.
So based look, it's perfect. The hydro mill and the Nashville are perfect for single mal production. It's just because we have these rare old varieties that can be difficult, but they're get getting easier and easier every year as we get used to using them. But there is more and more distillery starting to use these. Drew I know you loo in Scotland, there's two or three distilleries now that have mash filters and I know that their Irish distillers are starting to use mash filters and she was a kill begging her. There's is another one isn't her?
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:23:41):
Yeah, K's the only,
Neil - Waterford (01:23:44):
Yeah. Yeah. The guys were actually down at me last year cause it's a new distillery and they were figuring out how it worked and I brought 'em through it anyway. But yeah, basically if you are a brewery of a chi or a distiller, you have a chi of either a louder to a falls bottom mash to or a hy draw or sorry, or a you are a mash or a mash filter. It's basically choice depending on what you're producing. If you're producing a grain whiskey, it typically go at a louder ton because you'll need a cereal cooker to cook your rice and your wheats and your oats single mall production. You could either do as a mash filter or a louder ton. It's whatever decision as a business you make it. They both do the same thing. All they're doing is separate grain from work. But we find that the mash filter to get better extraction, better flavor development through using that process.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:24:39):
Because the whole idea is to, I mean in the lauder to, you really can't squeeze the juice out of that. I mean you have to continually run some water through it to try to get every ounce of what you're getting out of there. Whereas you're just stressing this you,
Neil - Waterford (01:24:55):
Yeah, Ty, typically numbers wise you you'd achieve maybe 95, 96, 95 or 96% extract efficiency from using louder to, you should achieve a hundred percent extract efficiency using a mash filter. They're typically the numbers the manufacturers throw out there.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:25:13):
But it's a big lumbering machine. It is will take up some space in your building.
Neil - Waterford (01:25:19):
A lot of Belgium, Belgium craft breweries are start using more and more mash filters because they find it better for flavor extraction. Okay. There's a lot more Belgian brewers.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:25:31):
The other thing is the hydro mill, which I have not seen that around anywhere else. And what an advantage for a downtown distillery because you really don't have to worry about the dust problems and the fire hazard of a regular hammer or roller
Neil - Waterford (01:25:50):
Mill. Yes. So is, again, it's perfect for what we're doing. It's a disc mill, so it, it's running on a motor. So the motor turns discs of disc milling, it's anaerobic milling under wet condition. So you add water to the bar, multi barely point while you're milling, which is a bit different. So it's called wet milling as you alluded to there it is probably better for safe hasn't safety wise, there's not, normally your hammer mills are roller mills are in separate rooms on their own because a lot of dust, there's a, there's an explosion risk there when you're dealing with dust from brains. So it eliminates that. But again, it's just a choice of different type of milk. There's a few more people in the industry starting to use or mill under wet conditions now as well. So it's perfect for what we want.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:26:37):
Well I'm kind of visually walking myself through how you took me around and we ended up over in the lab with Ned, and Ned walked me through the tastings. This was the real eye opener for me in that he was pulling down different farms, individual farms and letting me taste each one. And I'd heard somebody say, oh, this whole farm thing, there's really not that much of a difference between them. I'm going through these tastings and I am amazed at how one grain could taste so different between each of those. And what was interesting was he said think of a flavor or think of something you would look for because he was going to pull down a sample. And I said, it's interesting, in the early days of Irish me drinking Irish whiskey, I never warmed to it much. Well of course all we had was Jameson bush mills and Tomore do.
And I said, there was always kind of this little solvency note that I would pull out of it. And he goes, oh, let's go look through here. And he pulls down a bottle and he said, all right, let's see if this farm has it. And then he let me taste it and I went, that's it. That's exactly the taste that I was. And he said it was a subs soil called kill. Yeah. And that has stuck with me since then because it's so interesting to note that in what you guys are doing in being able to define even down to the type of soil where particular flavors or characteristics are coming from is an advantage that no other distillery I can think of has in being able to figure out how do we make the perfect whiskey.
Neil - Waterford (01:28:29):
And look, I suppose the industry was dismissed. What we were doing drew, and this is where we're really getting into the sciences of it now. The industry dismissed what Waterford are doing saying that terroir doesn't exist or flavors distilled out of it from pots distillation and blah blah blah. So we knew it was a thing. We can taste the differences from the new experts from fabric farm, our distillers taste that anyone who comes in and visits distillery can taste the difference from fabric farm. But we had to prove the concept scientifically. So with help from our local government research body, Chagas Ireland, it's called Dr Ki kk, who studies flavor, flavor in the dairy industry through grassfed cows through other, one thing he didn't focusing on was flavor of barely. So he helped us research the concept, Dr. Dustin Herb, who is a scientist in Oregon State University.
So he had proven the tower war concept for the beer industry in Oregon. So we got him over and he helped us all for with the project. And over three years, three consecutive crop years, what we did is we grew two varieties at three different locations and we proved the tower war concept that soil microclimate does influence the flavor of bird. So we had to scientifically prove it. We have a peer review paper released on the topic. If anyone is interested in it, you just go onto the Waterford website and you'll find it there somewhere or Google, Dr. Dustin Herb and paper will be there. So we've scientifically proven it. Tara war is a ting in Irish whiskey or single MaviSky. Anyway, now I'll give you a good example. So what Ned showed you there. So on Monday we've had a new, I bring in interns in for work experience and a German brewer in brewer and distiller in this week.
And I was bringing them through what you explained there to kill. So in Ireland there's predominantly three different subtitles around in soil. So you have kill Elton and you have Clan Roche, three different soil groups, main style groups. So depending if your audience can picture this, a flavor wheel, which clan roach on the bottom, Elton and kil. If you taste new mixed spirit from barely grown under the kill soiled subset, the flavors you get off of that is more flour, fruity style flavor. So under over consecutive, consecutive barely new birds from barely grown up using this style group, we can consistently get, and this is using three different sensory panelists, one from Oregon State, our own internal one and one from Scotland. Alright, Harry Rifkin who was a a sensory lab in Scotland and he does sensory navs in all the whiskeys in Scotland. Okay, so it's a reputable mm-hmm panelist.
If you taste new expert from Klan Roach, you'll subside. You would get more multi husky flavors and if you taste it from kill, you get more hay solvency, fainty flavors. All right. That's what we're seeing now. I was showing this German student around and was bringing them through that whole tower war concept and he was interested in trying to identify the different flavor. So what I did is I just gave him two samples of new bird and he tasted one and did a full sense, oh like that and spicy flour, whatever. Then he tasted the other one. He goes that, that's completely different. He said that they're not alike, they're completely after red or this one is real malty and this one is real sweet. The only difference is the barely came from a different field. That's the only difference. I said there two single farms, the parties come, he was amazed.
He couldn't believe it. He thought we'd done something completely radical to alter the flavor change like was nothing dirty. Yeah, they were distill the same, they were brewed fermented. Now anyone like you come in, you taste a two new mix. Anyone who comes in, we get them to taste a difference in a new mixed. And that's where the difference is. The difference in the taro is in the new bird, the starting point of the spirit's journey. That's the starting part. That's the terroir effect. Then it goes into the barrel and then the wood influences the flavor even forward. But the starting point from day one of maturation, the quality of the spirit from the different single farms is different from day one of maturation. Then the wood takes over and the quality, the wood you use influences the flavor even further. Then that's where that comes in.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:33:32):
Yeah, I was thinking about how many distilleries we'll talk about. There's seaside, so they pick up a certain seaside character in warehousing. But if you think about where the barley is grown and if the soil, soil is going to be made up of different components in say a rocky inland area versus what it's going to be on the coast. And so why wouldn't we think of barley as having diversity because of its different life experience, like humans that grow up on different parts of the world, they have different experiences that will have them evolve in different ways. And why would barley not go through the same thing? Correct,
Neil - Waterford (01:34:20):
Correct. No, no, it has to be a thing. Look, and I said we've proved it. So now it's just trying to educate people or people who are interested. Now we're making hopefully the most profound whiskey in the world. People will enjoy our whiskey because the quality and attention to detail we've gone. And if they're interested as a bonus, we'll bring 'em on another journey of educating on how we've made this product and how our understanding of tower and soil, the process would all influence the flavor. So they can either just enjoy the fantastic spirit at hand or they can come on another journey with us and learn all about what we do here.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:34:59):
It's definitely an eye-opener. And so talk about things like how do you to be able to tell all of these different farms and their own characteristics apart from them and really put the focus on the farms, what things are control elements that you have to make sure are the same?
Neil - Waterford (01:35:18):
It's a good question. Yeah. So we standardize a lot. So there's no real influence to alter the flavors. We want the flavor to come from the bardi. So first step is obviously collecting all those single farms with different tower warts. They're doing tower wars, then it's standardizing the quantity we take from the farm, standardizing the malting in regards to we will not be using GI acid. So it goes to a natural malting process. So whatever enzymes are developed during the malting are developed when it comes into the brewery, then yes, we have to tweak the mill, maybe alter the recipe for standard times to make sure we get the best flavor extraction or develop enzyme development. But they're only small tweaks. So we standardize the brewing as much as possible. Minimum five days, fermentation standard depending, no matter whether you're on organic biodynamic heritage, single farm minimum five days fermentation.
And we don't use gi acid. Ye yeast stand. So vitally important yeast is the third component of production of spirit yeast, raw material water, the yeast, we standardize the pitch rate. So we use one type of yeast, it's a Maori mg plus yeast, so it has a standard flavor profile, purposely picked that, it's an even flavor profile. We do the same pitch and red regardless of what type of barley we're using water barely. So it is 10 kgs for every ton of barley we use regardless, doesn't matter what type of water barley we use. So it's same pitch and red so that we yeast isn't influenced the flavor during fermentation. Yes, you can use champagne or different wine yeasts or propagate wild yeast and that will have its own influence of flavor. So we don't mess with yeast, we just standardize the pitching rate. And then when it comes to distillation, double distillation, 400 liters an hour on the wash till we standardize that we same floor for every farm, but the guys make the floor cut so they determine the cuts. Again, it's a very small variability putting on a massive variability and then standardizing casks. Then we used the same four types of cask for maturation. The four pipes I've laid out earlier on. So your exurban, your virgin us, your french oak, and your VN spirit is put into those four types of casks and left mature for a period of time
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:37:48):
And always the same percentages.
Neil - Waterford (01:37:51):
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:37:51):
Neil - Waterford (01:37:52):
Exactly, exactly. Well
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:37:53):
So what we are tasting, yeah, so what we're tasting is basically going to be that control version of the single farm.
Neil - Waterford (01:38:03):
Yeah. Now what Ned does do when it comes to bottling, he will adjust the percentages of casks depending on the markets that's gone and how it's matured. So he's not overly happy with bourbon casks or he think thinks a single farm hasn't matured enough in bourbon. He might use a bit more American new, or he might want to want to add a little bit more sherry. But the standardization comes up until the new expert stage and then Ned can play around with the casks at bottling. But the standardization is up. And this was
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:38:36):
The real advantage of being able to come and do a tour and actually get a chance to taste some of those that were new make at that point. So even before it had a chance to get into the barrels. And then are you aging your whiskeys all in the same place or you kind of spread out?
Neil - Waterford (01:38:52):
When we started the journey, we had two warehouses so that our warehouses aren't on site at the distillery here, they're about 10 kilometers towards the coast. The Waterford city is near enough to the coast in Ireland. So we, we've purposely, we've now eight warehouses purpose built beside the sea to get that marine influence during maturation. So there's lubes in the top and the bottom of the warehouse. You get that sea air just to maximize the maturation effect and get that C influence as well. So yeah, the maturation happens at the one place, but in eight different warehouses in the one area.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:39:27):
Let's jump into the concept of Coveys because I think this is really the, is the ultimate goal in a way of all of this work that you're doing is trying to come up with what we call it a flagship product, basically that is going to be standardized what you expect when you grab a Waterford, if you're looking for a consistent kind of an experience.
Neil - Waterford (01:39:53):
It is. And I suppose everything we've discussed, I don't take a drama at this while we're talking. So again, just for your consumer now is a blue bottle with a nice funky label on it. Very colorful label <laugh> to mimic our cove. So a lot of color in the label to mimic our cove effect. And I'll explain it now. So the cove, everything I explained to you so far about single farms and terror, war driven eat ethos behind our production, single farms, organic biodynamic, they were all stepping stones to the cove. So the single farms were to give to consumer an idea of what single malt whiskey test like from a specific farms organic. And the Arcadian series was to give to consumer idea what single malt whiskey taste like from different farming techniques. The cove then was bringing all these together in one bottling. So the cove is, this one we are drinking now is 27 single farms in one bottling.
So 25. Okay. Different tower wars all put together. So a very complex spirit, very spicy. There's a big punch in it. Now the cove for me will get better in time as the years go on these cos we get better and better as the whiskey matures longer and we put them together. Yeah, we'll get better. But this is a good start point. And it's, as I said, the first cove was 27 single farms in one bottling and includes a little bit of organic and conventional all altogether. So you have the different tower wars, the different farms, different micro claims all together.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:41:35):
This is Ireland in the glass,
Neil - Waterford (01:41:37):
This is it. This is a snapshot of every all one glass,
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:41:42):
Except that you're kind of going through a blending process and you're trying to create a you're going to the master blender instead of just taking all the barley and throwing it into one big pile and then taking what you get. This is more of a conscious effort to pull particular flavors and yeah, sense into. So is there a profile you're looking for ultimately in the covey?
Neil - Waterford (01:42:09):
No. N just wants a good expression of the different tower warts. He wants a pack, he wants a pack of punch in there as well. He wants it to be very spicy flour and he wants that mouth feeling. He wants her style of spirit to come true in it. Now we also do micro coves as well. So annually we do four micro coves. So a micro cove is seven or eight different farms put in one bottle. So what Ned does is he does seasonal coves. So he might do a spring cove. All right, so in the spring cove he might use more vdn casts rather than virgin or casts. So as it gives him more flour, fruity sherry style finish to the whiskey. Whereas if he did a winter cove, he will use more French and more virgin cause there was more spice and more dried fruits in there inference from the casks on that side. And so the way we've set up our single farms and the cask management, we can do seasonal coves and then we can do the grand cove, which is the one we're drinking now, which is a lot more farms together in one bottle.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:43:14):
So this one I get a lot of brown sugar and apples on this. And then what I love about it is that it also throws me back to the farm that we just tasted because I get some of that bourbon characters coming through, but I'm also being thrown back to the organic because I'm getting that white pepper little grapefruit coming through on the pallet. So it is really kind of bringing it all together. And then I'm left with that little brown sugar. That's it,
Neil - Waterford (01:43:47):
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:43:47):
Actually on the face.
Neil - Waterford (01:43:48):
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:43:48):
Neil - Waterford (01:43:48):
Is really nice. Caramelly flavors is very strong in it. For me, the cove drinking at 50% just gives it that the spiciness is enhanced. I always drop, add a little drop of water to my cove. Cause it opens out even more complex flavors that can't be reached. But drink that 50%, I drink it meat first and then I'll add a little drop of water and it just brings out more. You le leave it, sit there for a minute or two, add a drop of water, and it brings out even more flavors you can't get to.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:44:21):
This is one of those whiskeys that some of my favorite scotch whiskeys are the ones that when you initially take a sip of it, you might go, okay, I'm not really sure where this is going. But when you're sitting there by yourself and you're relaxed and you can just let your mind go, yes you can. Every time you taste it, you pull something else out. And I absolutely love those types of whiskeys. And the thing is that whatever youth I was getting in the first two, I'm not getting in the uve. So I guess in a way, when you're going in and you're doing your blending and are eight, are there age differences in here? Do you feel like there's probably
Neil - Waterford (01:45:04):
Would maybe The youngest, I think on the bot list is a three and a half year old is the youngest. The oldest oldest is maybe four and a half years old. So you have four and a half, five year old whiskey blended in with three and a half year old whiskey. So I think the complexities in there over masked the ness of the ute of the final single mot whiskey. So we're actually bringing out a new cove, which was when bottled, what day are we today? Today is the 21st. Was bottled on Tuesday, sorry, today is Tuesday. Last Friday it was bottled. It's called an Argo. Okay. It's Argo. So it'll hit your market next month. It's a different price pint, a little bit lower to reach different community of people and it will just give a good feel of the cool. There's a lot more single farms in there just Ned has put it in a way that it will hopefully just draw in a new crowd of people interested, people who want to try something different. And I think it'll be a very, very good start point for us to reach out to a wider community. I think at the moment you spoke about travel around Ireland, you still haven't seen Waterford on any shelves or anything. I suppose we're still finding on a journey to get our name out there and look a merit, not a sprint. So
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:46:35):
Neil - Waterford (01:46:36):
Right? I suppose we're chasing people who understand flavor. Obviously a lot of our ideals are French, French influenced. There's Mark Rainey after walking in disturbing the podcast. Oh, he's after walking out on <laugh>
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:46:49):
Special guest for a split second. That's it.
Neil - Waterford (01:46:52):
That's it. But yeah, we're really, really chasing people who understand flavor, the concept of the TA war. So it's very, very, it's taken time and we want to reach out to the right people. We just don't want to go gung whiskey everywhere and nobody understanding what Waterford is about. This is a slow process, very same way we treat our production, we're here for the long haul, so it's getting to the right people and then it's up to consumers then hopefully to spread the word from there and we'll gradually start gathering pace and getting our whiskey out there to more and more
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:47:28):
Places. I think that's part of the reason why after I toured, I thought there are some distilleries and there's some whiskeys that are very hard for you to market and really get across entirely what it is that you're trying to do. Because as you can see by the back of the boxes, there's a lot of text on there and it's telling you it's trying to go through and tell you a story. Yet some stories are more complex and require you to really either seek out more information on them, which is what's interesting about the fact that now with, in terms of transparency and giving that whole journey of an organ or of a farm whiskey and saying, Hey, you can go look up and you can see everywhere this thing has been how it was developed from start to finish. I honestly see that as the future of whiskey and that at some point customers will start to demand that. But this is something that is still in the very early stages that customers haven't really even considered that they would have the opportunity. And there's been a couple of distilleries in Ireland that I've talked to that are looking that way. So there is some momentum, there's
Neil - Waterford (01:48:48):
Movement, there's a movement to this way of, I won't say Microsoft producing a product that consumers now want to know where the product comes from. They're more aware, they're, look, the internet's still here a long time, but more and more people are researching, everybody wants to be I won't say an expert in a certain field, but they're genuinely interested in finding out more about whether it's whiskey, beer, whether it's the steak they're eating for dinner, they want to know the providence of where it came from. They want to know the background. People no longer are driven by just buying for marketing reason. Now obviously that's still a massive chunk of sales is driven by marketing and that always will be the case. But more and more people are shifting towards hang on a second, I'd rather pay one or two more dollars to buy that if, and no one merit come from than saving a few dollars. But look, it's a slow burner and the more and more people who research us will hopefully start drinking and enjoying our whiskey and the background to it and understanding the journey we're on.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:49:57):
Well you're kind of a metaphor for where Irish whiskey is right now in terms of you're getting your sea legs under you at this particular moment, as is the entire industry. And I hear people when they're talking about Irish whiskey, they'll say, oh, well the stuff that I find on the shelf is the old school stuff and anything that the newer stuff seems maybe a little too young for me or it's all being sourced. And this is an attitude that part of what I loved about doing my trip across Ireland was that you had a little more sympathy for where an industry is getting started and the fact that if you're going to try to judge the Irish industry against the scotch industry, apples to apples, we're talking about something well established versus something that is really now being more creative and coming up with some very interesting things, but is still young. I see the same thing in Kentucky and Tennessee, that Kentucky is established, Tennessee's young, but they are really starting to do some interesting things. And that Waterford is kind of in that same position against the other distilleries in Ireland that it
Neil - Waterford (01:51:17):
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:51:18):
There's an understanding that people have to have, maybe I won't want to call it forgiveness, but kind of a understanding that you guys are going forth with a three and four year old whiskey, whereas everybody else is kind of holding out and doing sourced whiskey to keep their brand up and that, but you're on a mission
Neil - Waterford (01:51:36):
And that's fine. Look, people have to get revenue in so if they have no other chais and to wait until their whiskey's ready to sell and source other whiskey in to sell under their own umbrella. But what may happen there is that what I suppose I would always, I'm not even a conversation with people in the industry when I'm doing trade events are out there. Irish whiskey a hundred years ago was the most popular branded whiskey in the world. And then obviously we had prohibition and scotch whiskey took over. Now scotch whiskeys is boomed for the last hundred years and they're the big player. Irish whiskey now is starting to gather pace. If we all get together and do this correctly, there is enough room for another 50 distilleries in Ireland, if not a hundred more distilleries in Ireland. But we need to do it correctly. And if it takes 5, 6, 7 years for new distilleries whiskey to be ready to launch, so be it. But we need to do this, right? There's no point in five or six people going off trying to do our own thing here. We need to do it together. Yeah, we need to do this together.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:52:38):
So in terms of the US market is there a focus on the US market? Yes. To bring in,
Neil - Waterford (01:52:45):
That's our big aim now, drew, this year the focus now has gone to sales. So we have to source a brand team in the United States now. So we have five, six people on the ground out there working with mm-hmm one distribution company who will look focusing on different areas. So over, and we have a new sales director now who's overseeing all of this. So he is a global sales director, which we didn't have before. So with a global sales director and people underground now in America, we hope now over the next 12 to 24 months you'll start seeing more and more Waterford in places in bars, restaurants, pubs whether it's true online, whatever way we get there, our new cove, the Argo will help us in that journey. It'll open up a lot more avenues for us and hopefully then people will grab the water for storing and start looking at what we do in regards to Tower War and Heritage journey and all our innovation projects here. So yeah, America is now priority for us.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:53:56):
Very good. Well Neil, I appreciate you. This is the second time you've gone through and told me all these great little details, but this time I have some company along with me who hopefully have a better understanding of what Waterford is trying to achieve and the idea of these different releases and what a covey is versus doing the single form farms and why the single farms are there and why it's to me, I talked about Okta Moore or something like that. I say Okta Moore is one of those whiskeys you buy because you want to see what it's like. You want to understand whiskey deeper. And it's what I think you guys are doing in terms of the single farms and an important part. And thankfully somebody's doing it because a better understanding of barley I think overall just helps everybody in the industry overall. So appreciate what you guys are doing and really appreciate you taking me through this all again.
Neil - Waterford (01:54:58):
Oh, it was a pleasure. Pleasure Drew as always. And look, you're always more than welcome to come here and look any your audience who think the travel Ireland in the next few years, the door is always open here at the Waterford. We do tours daily, we have loads of videos and films and articles on our website in regards to all the production we do. So looked at plenty of information there for your audience to not, even if they just want an understanding of virus whiskey, these films and articles were done for the purpose of that to educate people on production of single wa whiskeys.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:55:31):
Yeah, just watch a couple of those videos and you will be ready to go to Watford
Neil - Waterford (01:55:38):
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:55:40):
Very nice. Well, thank you so much, Neil Lan
Neil - Waterford (01:55:44):
Sla it. Thank you, drew, it was a pleasure. Bye now. Have a good bye everyone.
Drew - Whiskey Lore (01:55:48):
And I think now why I'm so excited about this particular distillery, and if you want to find out more information, you can go to waterford whiskey.com. That's whiskey without an E. And if you would like to get a copy of my latest book, the Whiskey Lore Travel Guide to Experiencing Irish Whiskey, you can find a copy on Amazon along with my experience in Kentucky bourbon book. And if you'd like to join Patreon and get more and more stories and all sorts of interesting content, just go to patreon.com/whiskey. I'm your hosts, drew Hamish, have yourself a great week. Thanks for listening and until next time, cheers and SL jva Whiskey Lords of Production of Travel Fuel's Life, L L C Oh. And by the way, if you go to waterford whiskey.com whiskey without any, there's a little Easter egg there when it asks if you're 21, say no and see what happens.