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Issue 102 - Being Certified

Whisky Magazine Issue 102
March 2012

 

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Being Certified

Gavin D. Smith looks into the organic label

We are all familiar with organic fruit, vegetables and bread, but organic whisky is another matter entirely. However, it is a clear niche market and one with great potential for growth. Both Benromach and Bruichladdich distilleries currently offer organic single malts, and a 4 Years Old blend called Highland Harvest is also on the market.

Organic Whiskies, based in Wales and run by organic farmer John Savage-Onstwedder, retails an organic Springbank from 1992 under the Da Mhile (Gaelic for ‘two thousand') name, along with an organic single grain, distilled at Loch Lomond in 2000, plus a blended Scotch comprising 70 per cent Loch Lomond and 30 per cent Springbank whiskies. At the heart of most organic produce in the UK is Soil Association certification, guaranteeing production methods conform to its clearly defined environmentally-friendly standards. In terms of whisky production, gaining that allimportant Soil Association certification means in the first instance that the malting barley must be grown without the use of chemical fertilisers and with restricted use of pesticides.

One result of this is lower alcohol yields, and Benromach distillery manager Keith Cruickshank recalls: “When we made our first batch in 2000 the yields were pretty low, but in the last four or five years, there has been more organic barley available and things have improved. With ‘standard' malted barley we could expect to get 410 to 415 litres per tonne of malt, and with organic barley we ave...

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