The Whisky Terroir Project, which came to fruition as a joint venture between Waterford Distillery and Enterprise Ireland, Dr Kieran Kilcawley of Teagasc, Dr Dustin Herb of Oregon State University and independent whisky analysts Tatlock & Thomson, seeks to explicitly understand, once and for all, the influence of terroir on barley-derived whisky.
|Dr Dustin Herb and Waterford Distillery CEO Mark Reynier|
The project aims to dissect the environmental conditions that contributes to the different flavours being produced from two distinct sites or terroirs in south-eastern Ireland – Athy and Bunclody. The project involves full soil, chemical and climate studies, along with fully independent malting, micro-distillation and sensory analysis.
Dr Herb, has set out a full project update on the distillery’s website. He outlines the method and the progress so far, with a conclusion that “preliminary results of the first year’s data indicate that environmental differences in whisky flavour are present.” In other words, terroir does indeed exist.
Commenting on the news, Mark Reynier, Waterford Distillery CEO, said: “In the fine wine world, terroir is a fundamental tenet, a principal that is understood and accepted both by markets and buyers as by growers and legislators. Yet oddly enough no one appears to have proven the concept scientifically. That is what we have set out to do here. And what is more, to show that terroir can apply as much to barley and single malt whisky as it does to the vine and fine Burgundy.”
The Whisky Terroir Project, is only half-way to completion, with the next phase focusing on detailed gas chromatography from Dr Kieran Kilcawley of Teagasc, with the full results expected to be published in Autumn 2019. The project team has also opted to go beyond the initial scope and repeat the process for another year to glean even more knowledge of terroir from their analysis.
Posted by Steve Rush