Tag Archive: Waterford


Waterford: Hook Head 1.1 (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 50% ABV)

Visual: Slightly darkened grain to gold spirit with medium speed and thickness streaks coming from it.

Nose: Oily, slightly nutty. Clay. Lime touch. Peppery. Lightly earthy – turmeric. Water adds light grassy and menthol notes.

Body: Smooth. Honey. Oily nuttiness. Earthy – turmeric. Light lime touch. Light apricot. Moderate thickness body. Water makes even smoother, a more oily nut character. Touch of strawberry.

Finish: Grit air. Light smoke wisp. Peppery. Dry white wine. Water makes smoother oily character and adds a peach air.

Conclusion: As only the second Waterford whiskey I have had, it fell to this to really show how much difference a single farm origin, a terroir as they say, can have on a whiskey. I already knew that I very much enjoyed Waterford whiskey from my first encounter with it – it was so high quality, especially considering how youthful it is – but I had yet to work out if it could live up to its base conceit of showing how much difference an environment could make to a whiskey.

Anyway, short answer to that. Yes. Yes it does.

It has similarities to the Ballymorgan 1.1 which I first tried – For one it is still far smoother than a 50% abv 3-4 year old whiskey has any right to be. It also still shows some nice fruity bright elements, though admittedly the fruit is more muted here so expresses itself differently.

So, with the similarities out of the way, how is it different? How does this show the influence of the barley? Well it is pretty darn striking. It is more oily, with a savoury oily nuttiness, and in general it has a more grounded, less bright character. There is a light earthy, peppery character than came across in a way I can’t help but think of as “clay” like after I read up on the soil where the barley was grown. Darn my easily influenced mind.

On a personal level I prefer the brighter character of Ballymorgan but this is very high quality with such a different style to play with, even a wisp of non peat related smoke there. So lovely to examine.

Waterford again proves itself as one the THE distilleries to watch at the moment.

Background: Been meaning to do notes on this for a while. I had my first Waterford a while back, and grabbed this a few months back as well. Waterford’s raison d’etre is that each release is made with barley from a single named farm, to explore the terroir of whiskey. Awesome idea and awesome whisky – the quality is so high, especially considering the age is no more than 4 years odd for each release. Initially each bottling was aged, etc the same way to keep them as similar in production as possible, but now each is aged and blended to best show off the influence of the barley. If you go to the website using the code on the bottle you can get the full detail on exactly how it was aged and mixed and details on the farm – up to an including the sounds of the farms in some cases. Anyway, I settled on this as my second bottle of Waterford as it had won ISW Gold, which seems a good start. I finally got around to doing notes on this after Independent Spirit did a horizontal tasting of six of their whiskies – and trust me, it gave me a new appreciation of exactly how different each bottle could be – it helped that several members o the Waterford team where there to answer many many questions. So, with new energy from that I finally sat down and did these notes.

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Waterford: Single Farm Origin: Ballymorgan 1.1 (Irish Single Malt Whisky: 50% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. A very varied mix of streaks come from the spirit – from slow puckering, fast sheet like chunks and thin streaks.

Nose: Lively. Alcohol is noticeable. Strawberry. Tart rhubarb. Pear drops. Nail polish. Butterscotch and vanilla toffee. Heather. Honeycomb. Water smooths to tart white grapes.

Body: Tingling. A young spirit feel. Pears. Peppery touch. Gooseberry. Dry rhubarb. Lightly waxy. Strawberry crème. Water adds vanilla custard. Sweet green grapes. Toffee.

Finish: Peppery. Malt chocolate to choc orange. Sweeter rhubarb. Strawberry crème. Water adds chocolate toffee and choc lime.

Conclusion: Damn I love this. Ok, maybe I should have saved that for the end, as I have just given everything away but… damn I love this!

So, to balance out that wild enthusiasm (this is 2020 you know, we can’t be having any enthusiasm or happiness) let’s get the bad points out of the way first. Neat this feels slightly young in a few elements of its character. Now it doesn’t have an age statement, and it it is fairly smooth (I would presume from Irish triple distilling practices, but their website seems to indicate they do a double distillation, so what do I know), but the character does have a few elements that would make me think this is pretty young. It is partly from a few rough edges, evident if not too harsh alcohol, considering the 50% abv – but more than that it has a very bright flavour profile which I associate with young whisky. So, it doesn’t have the refined character you may expect for the cost.

Now, water does smooth a lot of this out, but also changes the character massively as we are about to examine.

Neat it has that bright, youthful spirit character. It is very lively and very fruity – coming out as pear drops, rhubarb, gooseberry and the like over a quite clean base, with slight peppery notes. It is slightly rough, but generally all about those bright notes. Even with those rough edges it is utterly wonderful to explore and surprisingly easy to drink considering the abv.

Water changes it to a still interesting, but completely different style. Now there are loads of vanilla, toffee and some malt chocolate notes at the base. Far smoother, and sweeter, with far less fruit – though there is still a little there as high notes to contrast.

Neat is more exciting, and with far more to examine, but is rougher. Water is smoother and has a new complexity, but loses a lot of what really makes the neat whisky stand out. Both are worthy experiences and with those two options this stands out as a whisky with a great range of experiences – If this is what single terrior does then I am all for it. An absolute gem that I can recommend without hesitation.

Background: Now this caught my eye. I was lacking a bottle of Irish Whiskey in the cupboard, and I always try to keep one to hand, then this range popped up. A bunch of different whiskeys from Waterford, all concentration on the concept of “terrior ” so all the barley is from a single farm, in this case Ballymorgan.

Now I knew nothing about this difference in farms, so grabbed one pretty much at random, but the concept intrigued me. There is even a specific terrior code on the back you can enter on their website to find out more about the area, which is a nice touch. So, time to find out if it makes a difference. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Dan Le Sac’s These People Are Idiots – lovely chilled beats to drink to – I recommend checking it out.

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