Single Farm Origin
The Arcadian Series represents our otherworldly garden of delights. We sought out maverick farmers, inspirational growers, iconoclasts whose ethos & way of life respects the land & the old ways in the pursuit of pure flavours over yield imperatives. Gaia, the neopagan goddess of yore, a personification of Mother Earth herself, is a fitting custodian to bring forth Ireland’s first whisky distilled from certified organic Irish barley.
John Mallick, Paddy Tobin, Alan Jackson, Pat and Denis Booth, Jason Stanley and Trevor Harris rose to the challenge laid down by us to produce the first Irish-grown organic malting barley. Given the low yielding of organic barley, it is important to note that we combined these crops together as one batch prior to distillation.
When we started the organic project in 2015, the volumes of Irish organic malting barley from any one farm were so small there was no possibility of distilling them as a Single Farm Origin. We took all we could get our hands on to arrive at the minimum useable volume for the maltings. In the years to come, we will be in a position to add a number of Organic Single Farm Origins.
We find it bemusing that much of the industry treats with indifference the primary source of single malt whisky’s extraordinary flavour: barley. We have placed barley – where and how it is grown – at the heart of what we do, curious about where the real whisky flavour may be found. A natural progression of this philosophy is to see what not only single farm origins can accomplish but what organically grown barley can do when it is given the right platform. Compliance for organic status is not straight forward by any means – there’ s a shed load of hoops to jump through, deep cleaning regimens, audits and assessments to undergo.
So, is it worth it? We certainly think so, what we lose in yield and hair pulling we gain in purity and definition of flavour. We’re not playing at it; we lay down 400 to 600 casks of organic spirit a year, we buy all the Irish grown organic malting barley that we can get our hands on.
On John Mallick's farm at Garryhoe, a picturesque organic farm in Wicklow, the track starts out in a wooded area near last year's barley fields. It’s a clear, windy day. The track takes us down the hill, over a stream, into a clearing then deeper into another woods. The wind rushes through the trees; the branches at the top of the firs clash. There’s something rather magical about the place. The birds are full of life as the track moves through the woods and back around towards the edge of the fields. Then, from here, it’s downhill to the bottom of the valley where the wind gusts through a wire fence. The Derry Water River ripples through the farm.
Appearance: golden honey with viscous oils, and legs that if you had 40 winks, you still wouldn’t see the legs at the end of the glass.
Nose: orange zest, malty figs, seaweed, hay in the field after light rain, salted caramel, peppermint, rosewater, freshly turned soil.
Taste: heat and zesty pepper on the tongue, cloves, figs, oiliness that dries in the mouth, cherries, butterscotch, pears, malty, layers of spice.
Finish: long and zesty oiliness that dries, but leaves you chewing; a sweetness that comes right at the end.