It is encouraging to know that more distilleries are searching for a sustainable approach to farming, to secure healthy harvests and a steady supply of grain to produce the quality spirits we, as customers, seek.
As consumers, it is in our best interest to support brands that embrace these important practices, so we can guarantee we are drinking quality spirits that are not only great tasting, but also usher responsibility towards the environment and the future of farming for generations to come.
Consider these pioneering brands as we continue the conversation around Earth Day, and how we can all do our part to support these important efforts.
The terroir-driven whisky producer is the largest producer of organic malt whisky in the world. As part of its pioneering quest to unearth whisky’s most natural flavors, Waterford Whisky has introduced the radical biodynamic and organic farming philosophy to the whisky industry through their Arcadian Farm Origin Series, which includes Organic Gaia: Edition 2.1 and Biodynamic Luna: Edition: 1.1.
Organic Gaia: Edition 2.1 (SRP: $99.99) was created with a focus on championing the maverick barley farmers throughout Ireland, whose practices respect the land and reflect the old ways of farming in the pursuit of pure flavors. Derived from 6 farms using alternative farming methods including organic, biodynamic and heritage barley, the whisky has no coloring, chill-filtration or additives whatsoever. Gaia is Ireland’s only whisky to be distilled from 100% organic Irish barley.
Golden peach in appearance, with super rich and thick oils on the glass, it is a spicy spirit with notes of white pepper, grapefruit, dry heat, licorice, cherries, cocoa powder, wine gums, dry toast, salted peanuts, and lemon zest.
Biodynamic Luna: Edition 1.1 (SRP: $119.99) is the world’s first whisky made from biodynamic barley. Drawing upon ancient lore of lunar cycles and exotic preparations, the landmark whisky invokes the goddess of the moon for Waterford’s most esoteric and evocative bottling.
The taste boasts spice on every level, with white pepper, cloves, green peppers, jalapeños, dark chocolate, licorice, malted biscuits and peppermint tea, and grapefruit. The finish has heat and spice that’s dry but is mouth-watering, with some mint tea. It has more of a linger and less of a finish.
“We’re trying to make the most naturally flavorsome whiskies possible. To do that, this means respecting the land and the growers – but respecting the land brings additional benefits for the environment,” says Neil Conway, Head Brewer/Production Manager at Waterford Distillery. “Our barley is not imported, not mixed with international grains and delivered as “Irish malt”. It is entirely Irish grown, which means it’s all local to us – with obvious environmental transportation benefits.”
“To know precisely where the barley comes from and separate it out – to have a terroir – adds 10% to our costs before we even begin distilling, so we’re putting our money where our mouth is. Perhaps more significantly, we’re now the biggest distiller of organic and biodynamic whisky in the world: there was no organic malt barley being grown in Ireland before we began making whisky, and now we’ve welcomed about a dozen unconventional growers and championed their way of farming.”
“We do all of this primarily for flavor, not for greenwashing: we want to create the most natural and profound, most intensely flavored whiskies. What’s good for the grain is good for the drinkers. These are the old ways of production, in many respects; we’re just putting our modern twist on things to give drinkers something truly wholesome and real to experience. It’s important to remember that making vague claims about sustainability is not our purpose – creating natural flavor is our purpose.”
Regenified, the leading regenerative agricultural certification and supply chain-solution company, has awarded Regenified Certification to Star Hill Farm, the home of Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky.
Star Hill is the first farm in Kentucky and home to the first distillery in the world to receive recognition from Regenified for proven and evident progress in regenerative agriculture. With this certification, the brand advances on its long-term mission to cultivate bourbon that betters the world, while crafting the most flavorful product possible.
Regenified was founded by a team of regenerative farming and ranching pioneers to promote regenerative farming practices and combat the decline of soil health due to intensive and unsustainable agricultural practices. The organization verifies and certifies farms and ranches and their products that repair, rebuild, revitalize and restore the function of the ecosystem and regenerate the soil for future generations.
Through the Certified Regenified label and their proprietary 6-3-4™ Verification Standard, Regenified helps the supply chain, including farmers and ranchers, understand where their practices and lands are on the regenerative path.
“Regenerative agriculture is leading the way to improve soil health, biodiversity, and ecosystem function while producing high-quality products,” said Salar Shemirani, chief executive officer at Regenified. “Maker’s Mark’s commitment to handcrafting the finest bourbon has always prioritized the quality of their ingredients, dating back to their founding 70 years ago, when regenerative agriculture was the only norm. We are thrilled to recognize Maker’s Mark and its homeplace of Star Hill Farm for their ongoing commitment to these practices that are so vital for the health of our planet.”
Maker’s Mark Distillery sits on more than 1100 contiguous acres of land that make up Star Hill Farm. The brand champions regenerative farming practices throughout its land to enhance the soil, reduce carbon emissions and to maximize the flavor of everything the farm yields, including several hundred acres of regeneratively grown grain varietals.
In addition to embracing regenerative farming at Star Hill Farm, Maker’s Mark is working with local partner farmers to adopt regenerative farming practices, in hopes that the iconic Kentucky bourbon may one day be made fully by regenerative practices that give more to the land than they take.
Other recent initiatives from the B Corp certified brand include the establishment of the world’s largest repository of American White Oak trees for research purposes; a first-of-its-kind genome mapping project of the American White Oak species and the establishment of a 33-acre Natural Water Sanctuary on its distillery grounds to preserve and protect the land that filters its water source now and in the future.
“We are incredibly proud to be the first farm in Kentucky and the first distillery in the world to achieve certification from Regenified,” said Rob Samuels, 8th generation whisky maker and grandson of the founders at Maker’s Mark.
“Our ambition to act as a force for good in all that we do includes our commitment to being good stewards of the land and our soil at the home of Maker’s Mark. After all, bourbon is nature, distilled. We know a commitment to the quality of our ingredients through regenerative agriculture can lead to a future where whisky is not only more sustainable, but markedly more flavorful as well.”