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Waterford Heritage Hunter 1.1, Irish Single Malt Whisky, 50%

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Manager Will's Tasting note: 

Pina Colada, vieux Marc, fresh grapefruit, cocnut and citrus, with a background of hay and dunnage warehouse. There's a beautiful white peppery spice on the palate, with soft brown sugar sweetness and fruit 'n' fibre dried apple style. A delicious, tropical, fruity, spicy, savoury and fascinating dram that gets ever more complex and alluring in the glass. 

The 'Hunter' requires a little explaining, so for those interested, you can read all about this brilliant whisky's heritage below:

 View the full Waterford collection


The story of Hunter Heritage Barley - 50 grams to 50 casks

"Just over sixty years ago, a new barley variety was born. Its parents were the phenomenally-popular, flavoursome and successful Spratt-Archer, and the hardy Scandinavian, Kenia. Their progeny would prove to boast the best characteristics of each; robust in the field and supremely flavoursome in fermentation.

This new variety was Hunter, named for Dr Herbert Hunter in recognition of his enormous contribution to barley breeding at the Cereal Station run by the then Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction (DATI) at Ballinacurra, Cork.

For a little over 15 years, Hunter was the barley variety for Irish malt, accounting for 75% of Irish malting barley purchases by 1966. A favourite with brewers and distillers for the distinct and intense flavours it imparted.

It wasn’t to last. By the end of the seventies Hunter had been replaced for the usual reasons of yield and pest resistance. The varieties that took its place lacked the distinctive flavour, but made more commercial sense. Eventually, all that was left of Hunter was a 50 gram pack kept by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Bringing these varieties back to life, Jurassic Park style – turning the last few grams saved for storage into enough to sow a farm with – is no small feat. Planted initially in gro-bags in greenhouses, for all the world like tomato plants one would grow at home, they gradually scaled up, micro-harvest by micro-harvest, sped up marginally by the greenhouse conditions.

More than two years after our own project began, Hunter barley was finally available at a scale that we could distil from – Head Brewer Neil remarking on its flavour and quality just as his predecessors of the 1960s once did. Those original 50 grams of seed led eventually to 50 barrels of whisky for us.

For over three years since, single malt whisky from Hunter barley has gently slumbered in a selection of the world’s finest oak, inhaling the marine air of Ballygarran, waiting for Head Distiller Ned to pronounce it ready.

That day is upon us – and boy did that spirit come to life. Hunter barley single malt is reborn. We are delighted to once again share these forgotten and lauded flavours of this remarkable variety with you – a glimpse back in time, a change to experience real rarity in whisky.

We hope that Dr Herbert Hunter would have approved."

Waterford Distillery