Auction News: Terroir

Auction News: Terroir

Whisky Auctioneer’s expert offers his thoughts on August 2022

Auction News | 30 Aug 2022 | By Joe Wilson

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Having become a progressively crowded marketplace in recent years – and one where its audience is becoming ever-more engaged – it’s unsurprising that whisky distillers are placing sharper focus on the nuances and individualities of their production processes as they jostle for attention. This can make reference to particular distilling techniques, such as the vaunted 2.81 times method employed at Mortlach, or ageing practices like the fast maturation that Amrut enjoys on account of its hot Indian climate. Seemingly most persuasive to the modern customer, however, is the origin of the whisky’s raw materials.

While countless distilleries over the years have and continue to extol the virtues of their various water sources, discussion about barley has been less common until recently. Often referred to as terroir (a phrase borrowed from the wine world by Bruichladdich in the early 2000s), the provenance of a particular malt has become almost as foundational to whisky discourse as it is to the liquid itself. Bruichladdich distilled its first Islay Barley spirit in 2004, shortly followed by the emergence of now-revered single farm distilleries such as Kilchoman and Daftmill. Today, the use of in-house and locally sourced barley forms one of the guiding principles of many of the next generation of distillers, from Lochlea in Scotland, to Waterford in Ireland, to English distillery White Peak.

A collection of Wire Works Single Malt whisky

This month, Whisky Auctioneer has partnered with White Peak to exclusively offer bottles numbered 1-12 of its sold-out First Release in our August auction, the proceeds from which will support two important environmental charities in the Derbyshire region. With White Peak sourcing much of its barley locally and ageing its whisky on-site, the preservation of its local environment is crucial, and we are delighted to assist this exciting new distillery in such an important endeavour.

Of course, such provenance in whisky is by no means a 21st century fascination, and as ever our auction provides an opportunity to reflect as well as look forward. Perhaps the most significant whiskies of this terroir-driven type are the legendary bottlings from Springbank, now known as the Local Barley series. First bottled in 1990, these were produced using barley grown within an eight-mile radius of the distillery, where it was then malted and the spirit distilled, aged and bottled. Our August auction contains three examples of the series’ most sought-after 1966 vintage, including the legendary bottling from sherry cask #441.

For a distillery steeped in tradition, the Local Barley range proved that Springbank was also a producer ahead of its time. It is for this reason that the Campbeltown distillery’s output from all eras has amassed such a legion of devoted fans. Its current batches of Local Barley bottlings are a key contributor to the demand for its contemporary portfolio, and it’s this similar kind of attention to detail and keen sense of place that will likely stand new producers like White Peak on sure footing with connoisseurs for years to come.

A bottle of Wire Works

This article is sponsored by Whisky Auctioneer and is created in partnership with the team at Whisky Magazine. This sponsorship does not influence Whisky Magazine's coverage of auctions and Whisky Auctioneer do not have input on editorial decisions.

About Whisky Auctioneer

Whisky Auctioneer is one of the global market leaders and trusted authorities on the buying and selling of whisky and spirits at auction. Founded in 2013 and located in Perth, Whisky Auctioneer utilises its expertise and knowledge combined with its auction platform, to increase interest and passion in the whisky and spirits community.

Whisky Auctioneer endeavours to make the market more accessible for buyers and sellers of any background and geography. Its monthly global auctions feature some of the most comprehensive selections of old, rare and collectible whiskies and spirits available online.

Whisky Auctioneer became the first online auction house to sell a million-pound bottle and outperformed the nearest traditional auction house by 200 per cent in value from spirits sales in 2020, showcasing the move that whisky collectors, investors and drinkers have already made online and firmly establishing their leading position within the modern secondary whisky market.

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