Waterford Distillery, the Irish single malt whisky producer, is delighted to announce that Grace O’Reilly will be joining the team as the company’s agronomist in charge of terroir.
Grace will be overseeing the distillery’s relationship with its barley growers, and deepening the company’s understanding of the barley grown across their multiple Irish terroirs.
Terroir is the French word used primarily in the wine trade to describe the interaction between soil, microclimate and place.
Grace will help unearth knowledge on how these variables influence the different flavours found in the terroir-derived distillates produced at Waterford Distillery.
Grace’s career started with the Minch Malt, part of maltsters Boortmalt, and was from day one closely involved with the distillery’s initial intricate barley logistics.
Latterly Grace was with agricultural specialists Glanbia, before joining Waterford Distillery directly. She has continued to advise malting barley growers over the past four harvests across Ireland’s tillage-growing regions.
Having witnessed first-hand the successes and challenges of localized barley production across Ireland, Grace has a profound understanding of the variance from eld to eld in a given growing season.
Terroir, provenance and traceability may be trendy buzzwords frequently bandied about by marketing men, but to us they actually mean something.
Heretical as it may seem, we can show that a whisky’s flavour can indeed be influenced by where its barley is grown.
While large distillers understandably are reluctant to accept this inconvenience, we find it both compelling and intriguing. Grace’s appointment is a kind of ‘putting money where our mouth is’ thing.
– Mark Reynier: Waterford Distillery CEO
From the beginning I really enjoyed collaborating with the team at Waterford Distillery and I’m thrilled to be joining at this exciting stage.
Waterford Distillery are leaders in a what I hope becomes a barley movement. The level of research and data that has been collected on the 71 farms so-far involved is astonishing, and proves how serious we are about terroir.
Growers are the gatekeepers of terroir and through the spirit we can see how all these factors can in influence flavour.
– Grace O’Reilly
It is highly unusual for a whisky distillery to require its own in-house agronomist, but is indicative of the importance attributable to the extensive barley provisioning policy and the consequent understanding of terroir.
Given Waterford Distillery’s obsession with barley – the essential variable that makes single malt whisky the most complex spirit in the world – the team believes this appointment will further enhance the company’s pioneering exploration in to whisky terroir.