Well, we’d just about bottled the first edition of Bannow Island and it sold out, quick as a flash. That wasn’t our intention – and our distributors informed us that the demand across Europe had been ‘unprecedented’ for a new brand. 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.
Bannow Island is a striking farm, a sharp contrast to the majority of our terroirs. Under bright skies where scudding clouds move quickly with the Atlantic winds driving behind them, the soils here are challenged by being surrounded on three sides by a raw coastal environment, where the sandy loam tips down to the very shoreline itself. It is a place alive with history - from here the vanguard of the Norman forces – 30 knights, 60 men-at-arms and 300 archers – embarked on the conquest of Ireland in the late 12th century.
Ed Harpur, a grower with a smile on his face and whose mother is clearly one of the best scone bakers in all of Ireland, has been supplying barley for us since 2015 – part of our "first 40" who took up the challenge of being a Waterford grower.
Look directly down on his barley fields and sand is clearly visible, providing a challenge for nutrients – and during mid-summer one can see specks of white on the barley plant's tips due to their exposure to salt-laden breeze. Over the winter months Ed grows cover crops on his barley fields to keep the soil broken up and the subterranean environment thriving; these crops are grazed by his herd of cattle, who surely must have the best view in Ireland.
Head Distiller's Observations
Appearance: Honey with oils that grip the glass.
Nose: Malty, ripe pears, raisins, floral, lemons, warm vanilla custard, pink lady apples, marzipan.
Taste: Fruity, honey, caramel, malted biscuits, hit of spice heat, toffee popcorn, lemon drizzle cake.
Finish: Long lasting oiliness with a spicy heat that turns dry.