Irish whiskey is going through a rebirth, a renewal of popularity and technique, and none embody that more than Waterford; this week we’re going to taste them all starting with the Waterford Dunmore 1.1. Started by Mark Reynier after the sale of Bruichladdich he’s continuing with his Terroir experiments in whisky, which have been rebranded as tEIREoir. A not-subtle-at-all, but clever, nod to its Irish location.
Terroir is a bit of a touchy subject in whisk(e)y with the sides being fairly well-drawn for or against the idea. My good friend Bozzy has a few thoughts on terroir in whisky which I recommend checking out and which, for the most part, I echo as well. I’m not going to go on a long rant about it here, but in a nutshell my thoughts on the subject are that a true sense of Terroir exists in new make, once you add the barrel you’re adding a powerful outside influence that has nothing to do with the place the whisky came from.
As whiskey is barrel-aged it takes on character, and pulls flavor, from the barrel – effectively changing the unique fingerprint the spirit might have. With each passing year that unique fingerprint distorts and fades as the oak influence grows stronger and heavier. I have more thoughts on the subject, but that’s a post for another day. We’re here to talk about the Waterford Dunmore 1.1 so let’s get into it, shall we?
Waterford Dunmore 1.1 – Details and Tasting Notes
Mash Bill: 100% Malted barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon, French Oak, Virgin Oak, ex-Wine (various)
Age: 3 Y, 11 M, 17 D
Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color
Origin: Dunmore Farm
Buttery malt, toffee, citrus (grapefruit peels), vanilla and light bits of olde candy shoppe and dried orchard fruit.
Raw malt, banana cream, honey, buttercream frosting, spice, wax, stewed apples and nuts.
Medium -> Apples, nuts, malt and waxy banana.
BALANCE, BODY and FEEL
Well balanced, medium body and a warm soft feel.
Waterford Dunmore 1.1 – Overall
Aroma is a touch waxy, but the dominant character is a butteriness that stays consistent and prevalent and brings with it a nice balance to the earthier and fruitier notes; Palate is a bit more raw and malty, but retains that buttery feeling though it’s sweeter here giving it a buttercream frosting character; Finish is soft, sweet and subtle as it drifts out sweetly.
A great start. Is it as rich, aromatic and tasty as more mature whiskey? No. It’s the first release, but it’s one heck of a first release. A far cry from what most American craft distillers release as their first attempt.
Waterford Dunmore 1.1 – Final Thoughts and Score
Basic, light, youthful and topical, but completely inoffensive and displays brilliant bones for the oak to build on over the coming years. If it keeps going in this direction there’s no reason it couldn’t set a new standard for double distilled single malts in Ireland. For a first release, this is a remarkable feat.
There is a slight rawness to it that’s interesting and intriguing and while I wouldn’t identify that grain note as being a distinct character attributed to the terroir of the grain, it is a good balancing note to the sweetness. It’s not a crafty raw wood, but a spirity, grainy note that’s beautiful in its own right but shows a lack of integration due to its youth. The Waterford Dunmore 1.1 needs time to deepen and blossom but shows endless promise.
*Disclosure: The bottle for this Irish Whiskey review was graciously sent to me by the company without obligation. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.
Waterford Dunmore 1.1 Review
It’s remarkably flavorful for its age and brings a unique lens to Irish Whiskey. If you’re looking for something new and interesting, and you’re feeling adventurous, this could easily fit the bill.