Organic Whisky

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Increasing numbers of people are choosing organic food and drinks, in order to reduce consumption and use of synthetic materials, including pesticides and other harsh chemicals.

Despite only have three core ingredients (grains, yeast and water), surprisingly a number of synthetic materials are often used in order to produce a whisky. For example, barley is usually sprayed with pesticides in the field. If the barley is to be stored for a prolonged period of time, it may also be treated with insecticides during storage.

The use of synthetic materials, such as pesticides and non-organic fertilisers is very recent in the span of human history. Whisky was not always produced with the influence of synthetic materials. In the long history of whisky production, the length of time in which no synthetic materials were used, far outweighs their application in recent times.

Historically, organic whisky production of any significant scale was largely isolated to Scotland. However, this is changing and organic whisky is now being produced in countries such as Canada, France, Sweden and the United States of America, as the world whisky category continues to grow.

Organic whiskies currently being released are predominantly single malts or blended malts (produced using malted barley). Though some producers are making blends or ‘single grain’ whiskies which contain other grains, such as organic wheat.

Many of the organic whiskies that have been released in recent times have been outstanding. Using traditional methods, these distilleries are recapturing the essence of whisky making as it has been for centuries – without the use of chemicals. The results speak for themselves.

Organic whiskies have won a number of awards globally and many have sold out at ferocious pace.

Organic whiskies are typically non chill-filtered – providing for a richer depth of flavour. Organic whisky distilleries also avoid the use of artificial colouring to enhance appearance.

The regulations regarding organic production, labelling and certification vary from country to country. This is something to bear in mind when selecting an organic whisky, as some countries do allow limited use of non-organic fertilisers for example.

Organic whisky distilleries

Benromach

The Benromach whisky distillery was founded by Duncan McCallum and F.W. Brickman in 1898. Benromach is located near Forres, Morayshire in the Speyside whisky region of Scotland.

Benromach produces a range of whiskies, including the Benromach Organic Whisky.

Brenne Whisky (Brenne Estate)

Brenne Whisky was founded by Allison Patel. The launch of the first release whisky was in New York City in October 2012.

Brenne Estate produces 100% organic French single malt whisky. The whisky is made from organic barley grown in the Cognac region of France. The whisky is double distilled and then matured in new Limousin oak barrels before being finished in ex-Cognac casks.

Distillation is done in copper alembic stills (traditionally used for making brandy). Bottles are single cask expressions, barrels are not blended together prior to bottling.

Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 and is located on the Isle of Islay in Scotland.

Bruichladdich produces a range of whiskies, including Bruichladdich Organic 2003 Anns an t-seann doigh. ‘Anns an t-seann doigh’ is Gaelic for ‘the way it used to be’ or ‘in the traditional way’.

Da Mhile

Da Mhile is actually a suite of organic whiskies commissioned by Welsh organic farmer John Savage-Onstwedder. Da Mhile is Gaelic for ‘2000’ and the first bottling, produced by the Springbank Distillery, was made available prior to the millennium celebrations.

Journeyman Distillery

Journeyman Distillery is a certified organic and kosher distillery, located in the EK Warren historic Featherbone Factory, in Three Oaks, Michigan, United States of America.

Their focus is on producing organic whiskey, but they also offer other organic spirits such as vodka, gin and rum.

Their spirits are distilled, bottled, labelled, and packaged on site at the distillery.

Journeyman Distillery is certified organic by the Midwest Organic Services Association. They use organic grain that is produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, artificial pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, feed additives, or genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).

KOVAL Distillery

KOVAL Distillery is located at 5121 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.

Established in 2008, KOVAL was the first distillery in Chicago since the mid-1800s.

KOVAL produces organic whiskey, as well as a range of other liqueurs and spirits.

Founders Robert and Sonat Birnecker, chose to leave their academic careers to bring the distilling traditions of Robert’s Austrian family to America.

The name Koval means “blacksmith,” in numerous Eastern European languages, but the word in Yiddish also refers to a “black sheep” or someone who forges ahead or does something new or out of the ordinary. Sonat’s great-grandfather earned Koval as his nickname when, at the ripe old age of 17, he surprised his family and emigrated from Vienna to Chicago in the early 1900s to start a business. Coincidentally, the surname of Robert’s grandfather (at whose side Robert learned the art of distilling) is Schmid – German for “smith.” Sonat and Robert chose the name Koval to honour both men – and to reflect their own extraordinary decision to leave their careers to make whiskey in America.

Their whiskey is made on site, from grain to bottle.

KOVAL Whiskey is certified organic by the Midwestern Organic Services Association and certified Kosher through the Orthodox Union.

All of KOVAL’s whiskies are single cask expressions that are aged in 30 gallon charred or toasted oak barrels (113.56 litres). Each bottle is individually numbered and refers to the cask from which it was drawn.

The distillery produces a range of organic whiskeys.

Organic Spirits Company (Highland Harvest Organic Scotch Whisky)

The Organic Spirits Company office is located in the Bramley, Surrey, England. Their organic whisky is produced in Scotland.

The company produces a range of organic spirits, including Highland Harvest Organic Scotch Whisky.

Pemberton Distillery

Pemberton Distillery is located in Pemberton Valley, Pemberton, British Columbia, Canada.

Pemberton Distillery is family owned and operated. The distillery was founded by the Schramm brothers, Tyler, Jonathan and Jake. The distillery buildings were built by hand over the winter of 2008.

The distillery now produces a range of organic spirits, including single malt whisky.

Their whisky is 100% organic, non-chill filtered and natural colour (no caramel added).

Spirit of Hven Backafallsbyn

Spirit of Hven Distillery is located in Backafallsbyn on the small Swedish island of Ven, in the strait of Ă–resund between Sweden and Denmark. The distillery’s name is inspired by the old term for the island: ‘Hven’.

Spirit of Hven Distillery was founded in 2007 by Henric Molin, a trained chemist. Production commenced in May 2008.

The distillery produces a range of organic spirits, including single malt whisky. Their first whisky release in 2011 was not an organic whisky (Spirit of Hven Urania Single Malt Whisky), however subsequent whisky releases under their ‘Seven Stars’ series are certified organic.

The whiskies are made from barley to bottle at the small family owned distillery.

Their whiskies are certified organic, non-chill filtered and natural colour (no caramel added).

A taste of organic whiskies on offer

Benromach Organic Whisky

The organic barley is dried using peat smoke prior to distillation. Benromach Organic Whisky is matured in virgin American oak casks made from natural, wild growing forest. The trees are not sprayed with pesticides or any other form of chemical prior to or after felling. The whisky is non chill-filtered and no colouring is used.

Benromach Organic Whisky is certified by the Soil Association. For more information on the Soil Association, see the Links section of OrganicWhiskies.com.

Bottled at 43% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Brenne Organic French Single Malt Whisky

Brenne Whisky is made from 100% organic barley, which is grown in the Cognac region of France.

The whisky is matured in new Limousin oak barrels and then finished in ex-Cognac casks. Single barrel bottlings.

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Bruichladdich Organic 2003 Anns an t-seann doigh

‘Anns an t-seann doigh’ is Gaelic for ‘the way it used to be’ or ‘in the traditional way’. The Bruichladdich Organic 2003 Anns an t-seann doigh is limited to 15,000 bottles.

The organic Chalice barley used to produce this whisky was grown at Culblair Farm, near Inverness, Scotland.

The whisky was matured in new and used American oak casks. The whisky is non chill-filtered and no colouring was used.

Bruichladdich Organic 2003 Anns an t-seann doigh is Certified 100% organic by the BioDynamic Agricultural Association. For more information on the BioDynamic Agricultural Association, see the Links section of OrganicWhiskies.com.

Bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Da Mhile

Da Mhile Organic Single Malt Whisky

A 1000 bottle limited-edition organic whisky. Commissioned by Welsh organic farmer John Savage-Onstwedder; the whisky was distilled in June 1992 at the Springbank Distillery located in Campbeltown, Scotland.

Da Mhile is Gaelic for ‘2000’ and the first bottling was made available prior to the millennium celebrations. Bottle number 1000 of this limited edition series was given to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles.

Bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Da Mhile Organic Single Malt Whisky Newborn

A 153 bottle limited-edition organic whisky. The same whisky originally distilled in June 1992 for the millennium celebrations, this later release was bottled in 2007.

Bottled at 56.4% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Da Mhile Organic Single Grain Whisky

Distilled in July 2000 at the Loch Lomond Distillery, located in Alexandria, Scotland. A blend of organic malted barley and organic wheat.

Bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Da Mhile Organic Blended Whisky

A blend of malt (30%) distilled in June 1992 at the Springbank distillery and grain (70%) distilled in July 2000 at the Loch Lomond distillery.

Bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Highland Harvest Organic Scotch Whisky

Highland Harvest Organic Scotch Whisky is a blend of three organic malts (Highland, Island and Speyside regions) and an organic grain. The whisky is matured in oak barrels for 4 years.

The whisky was awarded the Prince of Wales’s Royal Warrant, by H.R.H. Prince Charles in 2007.

The whisky is certified by the Soil Association, USDA NOP (United States Department of Agriculture: National Organic Program) and the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). For more information on these organisations, see the Links section of OrganicWhiskies.com.

Bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Journeyman Distillery

Three Oaks Organic Single Malt Whiskey

Created from 100% two row malted organic barley.

Bottled at 45% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Ravenswood Organic Rye Whiskey

The first batch of this rye was made in the Chicago neighbourhood of Ravenswood. Production has since moved to the Featherbone building, but the whiskey is named in honour of its birthplace.

The mash bill consists of rye and wheat. The second batch, produced at the Featherbone Factory, uses organic wheat from Michigan and organic rye from Minnesota.

Matured in new white oak charred 15-gallon barrels.

Bottled at 45% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Featherbone Organic Bourbon Whiskey

Bottled at 45% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Silver Cross Organic Whiskey (Four Grains Fore Golf)

Owner and Distiller Bill Welter started his Journey in Scotland. Golf took him there but he left with a passion for whiskey and an understanding of the great people of Scotland.

The Silver Cross was given as a medal in the early days of the British Open. The Silver Cross would later come to symbolise friendship, tradition, camaraderie, and spirited competition.

One percent of all proceeds will be dedicated to the betterment of the game of golf and the people that play it.

The mash bill consists of equal parts of rye, wheat, corn and barley

Bottled at 45% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Buggy Whip Organic Wheat Whiskey

The site of the Journeyman Distillery, the Featherbone Factory, was originally owned by EK Warren – a businessman who revolutionised the making of corsets and buggy whips in the 1880s. The whiskey is named in his honour.

Bottled at 45% alcohol by volume (ABV).

KOVAL Distillery

KOVAL Whiskeys are made from grain to bottle at their Chicago distillery.

The whiskeys detailed below are certified organic, non-chill filtered and natural colour (no caramel added).

KOVAL Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey

This Bourbon Whiskey has the requisite mash bill of at least 51% corn, but instead of the usual rye or wheat supplement, they have included one of the main cereals of Asia and Africa – Millet.

The whiskey is aged in charred new American oak barrels.

Bottled single barrel at 47% alcohol by volume (ABV).

KOVAL Four Grain Single Barrel Whiskey

Four Grain is distilled from a mash bill of oat, malted barley, rye, and wheat.

The whiskey is aged in heavily charred new American oak barrels from Minnesota.

Bottled single barrel at 47% alcohol by volume (ABV).

KOVAL Millet Single Barrel Whiskey

The whiskey has been made from 100% Millet, a grain which is prized across Asia and Africa.

The whiskey is aged in new American oak barrels from Minnesota.

Bottled single barrel at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV).

KOVAL Oat Single Barrel Whiskey

The whiskey has been made from 100% Oat. The grain was sourced from a local organic farmer collective.

The whiskey is aged in new American oak barrels from Minnesota.

Bottled single barrel at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV).

KOVAL Rye Single Barrel Whiskey

The whiskey has been made from 100% Rye. The grain was sourced from a local organic farmer collective.

The whiskey is aged in new American oak barrels from Minnesota.

Bottled single barrel at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Limited Editions

KOVAL also produces a number of single grain, Limited Edition Whiskeys.

They offer ‘Toasted Barrel’ and ‘Charred Barrel’ releases of these whiskeys.

The Limited Editions are bottled single barrel at 40% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Pemberton Distillery Single Malt Whisky

The whisky is made using organic barley grown in the Salmon Valley and Peace River regions of British Columbia (Canada). Their water is sourced from the mountains behind the distillery.

Pemberton Distillery Single Malt Whisky is produced entirely on site at the distillery, from mashing through to bottling.

The whisky is 100% organic, non-chill filtered and natural colour (no caramel added).

Bottled at 44% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Spirit of Hven Distillery

The whiskies are made from barley to bottle at the family owned distillery on the small Swedish island of Ven.

The whiskies detailed below are certified organic, non-chill filtered and natural colour (no caramel added).

Spirit of Hven Backafallsbyn – Seven Stars No.1 Dubhe – Organic Swedish Single Malt Whisky

Released in March 2013, this is the first of seven limited edition whiskies that will be released in the Seven Stars series. The No.1 Dubhe release is limited to 10,250 bottles.

The whisky is named after a star, Dubhe (also known as Alpha Ursae Majoris), which is the second brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Major. The star forms part of the ‘Big Dipper’ (also known as the ‘Plough’ or the ‘Great Bear’).

Matured in a combination of American oak, French oak and Spanish oak casks. Each whisky is bottled by hand, signed and individually numbered.

Bottled at 45% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Spirit of Hven Backafallsbyn – Seven Stars No.2 Merak – Organic Swedish Single Malt Whisky

Released in March 2014, this is the second of seven limited edition whiskies that will be released in the Seven Stars series. The No.2 Merak release is limited to the number of bottles which were drawn from the marriage of 25 casks.

The whisky is named after a star, Merak (also known as Beta Ursae Majoris), in the constellation of Ursa Major. The star forms part of the ‘Big Dipper’ (also known as the ‘Plough’ or the ‘Great Bear’).

Matured in a combination of American oak, French oak and Spanish oak casks. Each whisky is bottled by hand, signed and individually numbered.

Bottled at 45% alcohol by volume (ABV).

 

January 13, 2015 |
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