Single Farm Origin
Well, we’d just about bottled the first edition of Ballykilcavan and it sold out, quick as a flash. That wasn’t our intention – and our distributors informed us that the demand across Europe was ‘unprecedented’. So we found ourselves back in the bottling hall. Edition 1.2 is a little bit older than the first – almost four months in fact. In an ideal world we might have left more time before revisiting a farm, but we wanted to ensure plenty of whisky was able to get people in the early days.
The townland of Ballykilcavan is situated in Co. Laois on what is considered one of the best terroirs to grow malting barley – well-drained sandy loams on a bed of limestone. The gently sloping fields are surrounded by picturesque ancient woodland, among Ireland’s finest and rich in native species, which acts as natural shelter for the barley. Over winter cattle graze the cover crops to keep alive microbial activity in the soil.
David Walsh-Kemmis’s ancestors have been here since 1639 when Oliver Walsh acquired the lands from Robert Hartpole of Shrule Castle. David, who briefly moved from the farm to seek a career in IT, was one of the “first 40” barley growers who took up the mantle of supplying barley for Waterford Distillery, back in 2015, and we have been distilling his barley ever since. In fact, his barley was our second ever single farm distillation in early 2016.
In 2016 we held our first Growers Gathering at the distillery, where each year our farmers congregate at the distillery and our trophy for Barley Grower of the Year is awarded. David was the first winner of this coveted trophy, which now sits proudly in his resplendent old farmhouse, from which can also see another winner – the champion black walnut tree in Ireland.
* Of note: as we had slightly more spirit left over than went into bottle for Edition 1.1, Head Distiller Ned brought over some of that remaining spirit into Edition 1.2. The majority of it is new, and therefore slightly older, but it still contains a small percentage of spirit that was matured for 3 years 11 months and 18 days.
The track starts before dawn in the woods that runs alongside the recently harvested barley fields. It’s not raining, but there's a heavy fog and the condensation drips from the trees onto the floor of the woods. The eerie atmosphere stifles the dawn chorus, but as morning breaks, the sound of neighbouring farms and traffic starting to move comes in – along with the wind which picks up as the sun breaks through. We listen for a while before walking out into the open field.
Appearance: Yellow gold with heavy oils.
Nose: Red grapes, tilled earth, dried fruit, barn yard, cooking apples simmering in the pot, petrichor, that aroma of a forest after the first rain for days.
Taste: Oily mouthfeel, white pepper, apricots, spices, toffee, maltiness, wood shavings.
Finish: Dry, oily, spice, chocolate, malt that lasts.