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Sydney's Doss House: A Terroir Toast with Waterford Whisky's Australian Debut.

In the picturesque town of Waterford, Ireland, where the river Suir gracefully winds its way into the Atlantic Ocean, the extraordinary story of transformation unfolds within the historic walls of a former Guinness brewery.

Enter the maestro, Mark Reynier, known for his stewardship of Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay and the visionary force behind Renegade Spirits. The result? Waterford Distillery—a seamless blend of tradition and innovation.

The narrative commences in 2014, when Reynier acquired the Guinness brewery, a structure already rich in history but destined for a new legacy. A bold move was made, dropping the "e" from whiskey, setting a distinctive tone in the Irish whiskey realm. The first whispers of this innovative spirit emanated from the stills in January 2016, marking the birth of a venture dedicated to unravelling the elusive concept of terroir in whiskey production.

Rewind to Reynier's Bruichladdich days, and the influence of organic barley becomes apparent. This influence echoes in Waterford whiskey, where each drop is a poetic tribute to the grain. Guided by head distiller Ned Gahan, traditional double distillation unfolds at a deliberate "low and slow" pace, producing a million litres per year.

Waterford's tale extends beyond the spirits to the vessels cradling its secrets. Pot stills, originally destined for Islay's Port Charlotte Distillery, found a new home in Waterford—a saga mirroring the resilience embedded in each bottle.

Delving into the essence of Waterford whiskey reveals a deep commitment to terroir. Over 50 farms, 19 distinct soil types, and a meticulous approach to batch separation exemplify the brand's dedication to traceability and transparency. The spirits safe, bearing the names of both farmer and distiller, stands as a testament to their adherence to the "three T's."

A staggering 19,000 casks rest in warehouses, patiently awaiting their moment. Each bottle's unique code opens a digital portal on the Waterford Distillery website, unveiling the intricacies of cask selection—a homage to Reynier's legacy at Bruichladdich.

Waterford's pursuit of whiskey's natural flavours finds eloquence in their philosophy. Inspired by winemakers worldwide, they navigate through Single Farm Origins, Cuvées, and Arcadian Barley releases. As the world's largest producer of organic and biodynamic whiskies, Waterford pushes the boundaries of flavour exploration.

At the heart of this venture lies the Cathedral of Barley, a bespoke structure ensuring the integrity of each farm's harvest. The Facilitator, a technological marvel, merges state-of-the-art equipment with ancient knowledge, giving birth to elite whisky.

Terroir, often whispered as a secret, becomes Waterford's guiding star. The interplay of soil, microclimate, and site, shaping barley growth and flavour nuances in three dimensions, results in a whisky reflecting not just the spirit within but the very essence of the land.

Now, what venue would be better suited for the official launch of Waterford Whisky on the east coast of Australia than Sydney’s Doss House?

This celebration was no ordinary affair, for the synergy between the Doss House, Waterford Distillery, and The Whisky List birthed an event that transcended the realms of mere libation—it was a Single Farm Festival.

Picture this: a venue resonating with the echoes of Ciara Doran's family farm, one of the esteemed 100 Irish growers contributing barley to the very essence of Waterford Whisky. It was a homecoming of sorts, where the roots of the barley intertwine with the historic walls of the Doss House, owned by the hospitality virtuoso Ciara Doran herself.

The Single Farm Festival was more than a showcase; it was a journey into sustainability, traceability, and the craftsmanship that defines Waterford Whisky. The air was filled with the aroma of excellence, and the glasses held not just spirits but stories—stories of the land, the people, and the meticulous process that brings each drop to life.

As the festival unfolded, a crescendo awaited—a masterclass, an intimate affair curated by none other than Mark Reynier. The man behind the magic, the orchestrator of terroir-driven symphonies, took enthusiasts on a guided exploration of Waterford Whisky.

It was more than a tasting; it was a communion with the very soul of the spirit. In the dimly lit ambiance of the Doss House, surrounded by enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike, Mark Reynier unveiled the layers of complexity within each bottle. The journey from the Irish fields to the Australian shores found its culmination in this intimate gathering, where the spirit of collaboration and passion for terroir united.

Our highlight from what was profferred?

Waterford's Fenniscourt peated variant.

Sourced 26 miles west of Dublin, Fenniscourt's peat defies convention. A tasting expedition revealed a world both familiar and unknown—a venture into vegetal richness, reminiscent of burying one's face in a freshly upturned mound of moss and earth. Laden with detritus, it exuded freshness, with a hint of grassiness, a testament to its origin.

Radiant and luminous in appearance, the nose of this enchanting whisky dances with herb-infused sweetness, accompanied by a medley of oily fumes and the evocative essence of a crackling bonfire. Within its bouquet, a myriad of delights unfolds – notes of forest honey, sage candy, olive oil, apple peel, citrus zest, barley sugar, and resin drop. The multifaceted steams and vapours weave together in a tapestry of complexity, creating a captivating and sophisticated olfactory experience.

Initiating with a sugary embrace, the palate evolves into a floral, grainy, and aromatic symphony, enveloped in a delicate smokiness. Within this nuanced sphere, discover the presence of apricot chips, apple rings, sunflower kernel, aniseed cookies, violet drops, jellied lemons, and sweetened ginger bites.

Unfurling into a lingering finale, the long finish introduces a refreshing hint of mint, amplifying the layers of honey, herbs, leaves, and lingering fumes. The last impression crafted by Waterford Peated: Fenniscourt paints a vivid picture of wandering through a lush, green forest, where narrow paths are veiled in plumes of sweet peat reek. Each step resonates with the echoes of a sensorial journey that is both beguiling and enduring.


Words by AW.

Photos by AW.


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