Tag Archives: Terroir

Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Jun. 21.

The Future of Whisky Making

Bruichladdich Nostalgia BAROLO 017 (2) (1024x959)

I have just watched a programme about Dan Barber and Blue Hill Dining.

This restaurant and philosophy illustrate an old, new way of looking at dining and food production. Basically, they are trying to make people think about flavour and good husbandry in food production. This means the bottom line in the business is not economic.

Last week I was in Barcelona and visited Vilarnau Cava Cellar.

They are in the second year of the three year programme to become organic  Cava producers.

This eco friendly  way of thinking about food and drink is the future. And if we want to protect our planet and ourselves we need to start thinking about this kind of thing in whisky making.

Bruichladdich Distillery are away out in front with their thinking in relation to this point.

They are working with individual farms in Islay and have fields of barley grown for them in different areas of Islay. They intend to distill these crops of barley individually, so the micro provenance of the barley can be traced to specific areas of Islay. This is a fantastic idea. Bruichladdich’s stapline ~ ‘We believe Terroir Matters’ is so important. Wine makers understand this consciousness only too well. Why people dismiss or underestimate this in whisky making is beyond me.

Bruichladdich are out in front with this thinking, but more needs to be done. We need more organic whisky, more individual fields growing barley.

Kilchoman Farm Distillery are at the forefront of this new, old thinking also. They have just agreed to buy the farm of Rockside upon which the distillery is situated. This is a fantastic thing. Now they will be able to grow their own barley, on their own farm and produce their own whisky. This is how distilleries came into being in the first place. Farms ‘stored’ their excess barley in whisky. This is the same way we store excess milk in cheese, and store summer berries in jam.

Barley

Whisky making is part of the cycle of life. The yearly turn of the seasons. Whisky making has its place in the cycle of the year ~ It is when it became a commercial concern that it became a year round event.

The whisky industry needs to become more organic, more closely connect itself to the growing of the barley. I was struck whilst at Vilarnau Cellar that it was really a vine farm. They think about the land and the agriculture, whereas in whisky we think about the process.

I believe that the future of quality #Scotch Whisky making is in attention to  Anam an fhearrain ~ in attention to Terroir.

I believe we need to pay more attention to ingredients.  How and where they are grown and sourced. We need  to develop a system  that works from the land to the glass with a  far more environmentally aware consciousness than we do at present.

Slainte! To the sustainable future of #Scotch Whisky Making

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Nov. 05.

Terroir ~ in Gaelic, is Anam an Fhearainn ~ Soul of the Land

Favours Galen & Ling

 

Barley grown in a field in Bridgend, Islay in 2013

TERROIR : of the land

Anyone who thinks there is no such thing as terroir misses understanding themselves and our world.  Barley, water, peat, yeast, copper, people ~all come from the land.

In making whisky ~ everything is provided by the earth, by nature herself ~ barley, earth to grow it in, people to sow it, tend and harvest it, water to soak it and let it germinate, yeast to react with the sweet barley water, wooden wash backs to ferment the wash in, copper stills to distil the wash and spirit in, peat to burn to toast the barley ~ all from Mother Nature. 

Stone built warehouses to keep the drams in, wooden casks for maturing whisky made from oak trees from all over the world, glass made with sand from ground down stones and shells for the bottles, and paper made from trees for labels and packaging. The people required at every step of the way, their skills, their attitudes, their passions and compassions ~ all from Mother Nature.

The weather conditions and geology which influence flora and fauna, which in their balanced relationship with each other made a perfect location for people to farm there ~ eg  Kilchoman, Lagavulin, Laphroaig.

Because they farmed there they grew barley. When they harvested they had grain for making flour, animal feed, to plant again the following year, and to make whisky.  People chose land that was fit for purpose. Their lives grew out of what was there. They were shaped by that land, and in turn produced that which was shaped by the land and the people of that land engaging in an interactive, reciprocal relationship.  Their society was formed by their habits in that land. Their interaction with that specific landscape and animals therein shaped how their language became, what food they ate, what they drank. 

So, concisely;  the geography, geology, flora and fauna created what would happen there; what settlements, what habits of human behaviour, what language, what skill sets, what creativity.

Next, the distilleries became bigger than the farms. There were piers where puffers brought coal for the fires to heat the stills, bringing casks to store whisky (in those days people made whisky from the outset) taking excess whisky away, bringing in extra barley; the moving and shaking of that place.

Each area created a different whisky as each area had different sets of characteristics ~ the characteristics were in the people, too; the habits they had in distilling, their traditions and customs of living, the specific skills they had, the shape of their buildings, where they were located in the landscape. The weather they received influenced what clothes they made, what food they ate, what they drank, when their streams went dry, where was best to store grain, the particular time things were done. All these particulars are shaped by the landscape in which they take place. And all these particulars allow the spirit of a landscape to produce something unique. The energies specific to a landscape produce things unique to that area.  This is what is meant by terroir.  In Gaelic, we call it

Anam an Fhearainn ~ Soul of the Land.

 We believe Anam an Fhearainn matters  

~ not just in whisky: it matters in EVERYTHING.

Pronounciation : Anam an yerr-ane   ~  Anam (as in Adam)  ane (as in plane)

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