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Sometimes it feels like information overload with all of the details one can find on a particular whiskey they like. Others, it feels like the key to fully appreciating the spirit itself (so long as the taste is there to match, of course). For anything from Waterford Whisky (which is the rare Irish whiskey that forgoes the “e”), I’ve found the latter to always be true.
The brand’s Organic Gaia 2.1 is a perfect showcase of what Waterford can do. Like the rest of what Waterford has to offer, the focus is on terroir and exploring how a distilled spirit can truly convey a sense of place through the grains that are used. Wine, after all, doesn’t have a monopoly on terroir.
You can taste Gaia 2.1 and be perfectly happy not knowing anything more than the fact that you have a really good whiskey in your glass. Or, you can find a whole lot more through the terroir code on the bottle (in this case, OR02E01 – 01) that brings transparency to the forefront and shows this is one spirit that has nothing to hide.
ABV: 50 percent ABV (100 proof)
Where it’s available: Available online.
How Waterford Whisky Organic Gaia 2.1 Is Made
After nearly a decade of writing about alcohol, I’m confident in saying that it’s impossible to find a brand that’s more transparent about every single spirit than Waterford Whisky. It’s more than just grain to glass, it’s grain to glass where you can literally hear what it sounds like where some of the grains are grown via a SoundCloud embed on the bottle’s site (John Mallick’s farm at Garryhoe, to be more specific).
A few standout facts from what Waterford makes public: Grains harvested summer of 2015 and 2016, and distilled in the eleventh week of 2017 before being matured for 1,527 days. It was bottled in August 2021, and just 30,000 were made. It’s Ireland’s only whiskey using organic barley—in this case an alt-barley Waterford highlights in its Arcadian Series. There are the names of the farmers that run the organic farms where the grains are grown, as well as the distillers. Organic barley from three different soil types made it into the mix, and four different barrel types were used: first-fill barrels from the United States (39 percent), barrels that held the French sweet wine vin doux naturel (25 percent), French barrels (19 percent), and virgin barrels from the U.S. (17 percent). The exact barrels and where they came from are also listed.
The information provided for Gaia 2.1 and every other bottle of Waterford Whisky is, in short, information overload in the best way possible, complete with videos, maps, and sounds.
It’s almost enough information that one could distill a version for themselves. Only they can’t because of the very special nature of the farms that Waterford works with to source grains found nowhere else. But perhaps that should come as no surprise from the brand that was a leader in finding that whiskey can indeed express terroir when Waterford published a peer-reviewed paper with Oregon State University on the topic.
What Waterford Whisky Gaia 2.1 Tastes Like
Fresh citrusy orange and subtle sweet barley notes from the first smell with a slight chocolatey lactose sweetness. The taste has cherry, toast, citrus, and pepper with that barley sweetness returning at the end to temper the ABV and leave a long and memorable finish.
Why You Should Add Waterford Whisky Gaia 2.1 To Your Bar Cart
There’s plenty to love in a brand that makes consistently good whiskey year over year, bottle after bottle. But a truly unique bottle that you’d like to return to time and again but can’t because you likely won’t find or be able to taste after it’s done is something to cherish. The bottle tells a story, so it’s not likely one that you’ll bring out for a big group of friends and pass around. Or do, knowing that the next Waterford bottle you purchase will have just as much of a story to tell.