Waterford Whisky may have beautiful bottles, but they’re not just a pretty face! They’re leading the marketplace in naturally grown, terroir-driven spirits, redefining the concept of Irish whisky entirely. Employing the ideologies of many of the world’s great winemakers, they’re using the unique character of the barleys to shape the flavors of their whiskies and to push the boundaries of tradition.
Biodynamic Luna 1.1 is the embodiment of Waterford’s philosophy. It’s not your typical “shots at the bar” Irish whisky- the flavors are heady and intense, requiring thoughtful consideration to understand and fully appreciate. It’s also not a “mixer” whisky- not that you can’t, but at around $100 a bottle, combined with its complexity, Luna 1.1 is undeniably a sipper.
So, what’s so special about it? Well, everything! In the glass, it’s the color of Amontillado sherry- pale brown with tinges of light-skin-contact rose wine. The aroma headline reads “freshly baked French bread crust,” backed by hints of cut wheat, whole barley grain, loam, carnations, and a whiff of kippers in the background. It’s light, fresh, and clearly 100% barley, but it also has something more. It begs long contemplation, mainly because it’s unique. Every time I sample, I spend more time sniffing than drinking!
The sip starts a bit hot, a product of 50% ABV. The mouthfeel has a delicate touch- quite the opposite of fat and oily. This sensation is enhanced by adding a few drops of quality water.
The flavors mirror the nose, with truckloads of fresh bread leading the charge. A range of sweet flavors follows, including vanilla, honey, baked apples, and minerals, with hints of fresh bartlett pears, tea biscuits, almond flour, and violets. The finish is moderately long and alcohol prickly, followed by echoes of bread, freshly ground barley, and, ultimately, a hint of oak. Adding water opens the flavors significantly by decreasing the heat, allowing the flavor nuances to peek through. Doing so adds some white pepper, increases honey influence, and makes the finish much softer, although slightly shorter. I much prefer it!
Is this my favorite Irish whisky? No, but it’s quite charming. It’s far from the norm, and I’d dub it “Irish in name only.” However, this is a great option if you’re adventurous and seek new and unusual styles that shake up the status quo. There’s no denying that Waterford is the leader in whisky terroir- they make a considerable variety of Irish whiskies, each with a unique story to tell.