Arcadian Barley, from our secret garden of delights, explores the natural flavours, intensity & honesty of the old ways. We have had to go to extraordinary lengths to eschew the quotidian varieties — those modern yield enhanced versions that distillers are obliged to use, in order to celebrate the lost flavours – flavours that evolved over centuries in harmony with Ireland’s terroirs. Indeed, to rediscover the flavour of iconic Irish barley we must venture back in time.
Hunter, named after pioneering plant breeder Dr Herbert Hunter, was introduced in 1959 and was for almost two decades noted for its distinctive flavour. We now reintroduce this game-changing barley to a new era of single malt connoisseurs. Vanished from the Irish landscape since the late 1970s, superceded by more economically rewarding crosses, all that remained of Hunter was a 50 gram bag in the seed bank of the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine.
Planted in greenhouse grow bags, this 50 grams grew to four kilograms, and the cycle went again and again over two years, until there was enough for ten acres at our partner Minch Malt’s test site in Athy. Test successful, Hunter was sown on a commercial scale on the lime-rich Elton series terroir of Donoughmore, yielding 25.5 tonnes of malting barley — enough to fill 50 casks. It is from that first pioneering distillation that this whisky has been drawn.