Remember when I first published about Waterford in September 2017? (Which was about six months after my actual visit.) In it I also briefly mention the two different new make spirits I tried, one of which made from barley grown on the land of farmer Martin Foley. Well, that new make has finally grown up and was recently released as Waterford’s Hook Head 1.1, part of the distillery’s Single Farm Origin Series. I love that I now finally get to try the finished product.
Back then I described Foley’s new make as “earthy and malty, with notes of earl grey tea and chocolate.” Hook Head, which is located 10 miles from the distillery, is said to have a maritime terroir influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The barley from Foley’s farm gets exposed to salt-laden storms, which you know, sounds cool. Not sure if that’s actually recognizable in the finished product, but I suppose we’ll find out.
For my South African readers (do I have any?) I’ll throw in a review of the newly released Waterford Cooladine 1.1. The barley for this expression was grown by William & Pat Doyle on fertile soil composed of shingle and clay-rich marlstone, bottled exclusively for South Africa.
Nose: Rather earthy with a good amount of malt and whole grain biscuits, as well as a touch of buttered toast and copper. Somewhat farmy and even a tinge of dried seaweed. There’s a hint of orange marmalade and lemon in the background, as well as a touch of milk chocolate. Taste: Proper oily mouthfeel with touches of stewed apple and caramel, followed by white pepper, licorice root and ginger, as well as a subtle salinity and chocolate. Finally a hint of pear. Finish: Lingering spices and drying.
Rather a little less approachable than the below Cooladine, the Hook Head 1.1 is a little more austere but a quality single malt still. Fresh and earthy.
Nose: Sweet notes of marzipan and lemon yoghurt accompanied by matzo bread and barley husks, but also yellow cake. There’s gentle touches of red berries in the background, as well as straw, beeswax and red apples. Taste: Oily mouthfeel and a gentle arrival of apple sauce, marzipan and black pepper, but also vanilla custard, caramel and sultanas. Finish: Ending on herbal notes and soft spices. Medium in length.
The nose is already such an adventure and displays a complexity way beyond its years. The palate can’t quite keep up, but that doesn’t really matter anymore.
I know I keep saying the proof of the terroir is in the eating, but that truly is the case. I’ve now experienced over and over the considerable differences between the Single Farm Origin releases of Waterford. The Cooladine and Hook Head are simply two more examples of the distillery’s ethos.