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Distilled: Biodynamic whisky takes centre stage

Our monthly spirits round-up includes two biodynamic whiskies making waves in the distilling world, and how to make a classic Espresso Martini with ‘zero waste’ vodka.

First past the post in a race for the world’s first biodynamic whisky release was Waterford Distillery’s Luna 1.1, made with biodynamic barley from three Irish farms.

Matured in used and new American oak, French oak and vin doux naturel casks, the single malt joins Waterford’s Arcadian Series heritage range.

Released towards the end of 2021 and priced at £89.95 per 70cl at Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange, Waterford Luna 1.1 (Alc 50%) is fruity with mellow cereal and rye notes.

The smooth palate is tinged with clove, ginger, almond chocolate, toffee and red earth, along with lighter notes of lemon balm and mint.

Mark Reynier, Waterford Distillery’s CEO, said he took inspiration from a shift towards biodynamic methods in some vineyards, as part of broader efforts to make winemaking more sustainable and enhance expressions of terroir in the glass.

‘During my career I’ve had the fortune to taste the world’s greatest wines,’ he said. ‘It’s no surprise to see the ever-increasing adoption of biodynamics in the search for intensity and purity of flavour. If for the grape, why not the grain?’. 

Meanwhile, Scotland’s Bruichladdich Distillery has been working with Yatesbury House Farm, using biodynamic English barley to produce The Biodynamic Project.

An unpeated single malt distilled in 2011 and matured on Islay for 10 years, it follows in the footsteps of The Organic Barley 2010 and Bere Barley 2011.

The Biodynamic Project (Alc 50%) has notes of stone fruit and orange citrus, with gingerbread, white pepper, pineapple and salted caramel. It was available at £100 per 70cl bottle via bruichladdich.com.

On our cocktail menu this month: Espresso Martini

espresso martini

Photo credit: Photo by Kike Salazar N on Unsplash.

A modern classic, the Espresso Martini was invented by legendary London bartender Dick Bradsell in 1983, at the Soho Brasserie.

Allegedly supermodel Kate Moss asked him for a drink to ‘wake me up’. It’s certainly tricky to sleep after tasting this combo of espresso, coffee liqueur and vodka.

Try using creamy Black Cow (Alc 40%), a zero-waste vodka made from milk, with notes of vanilla pod, coconut and sweet liquorice. It’s priced at £25-£30 per 70cl bottle and is widely available, including via Amazon.

How to make an Espresso Martini


  • Martini glass
  • 45ml vodka
  • 30ml hot, freshly made espresso coffee
  • 20ml coffee liqueur
  • Coffee beans (for the garnish)


  • Pour all of the ingredients into a shaker with ice
  • Shake until your hands are cold
  • Fine strain into a Martini glass
  • Add the garnish

Know your spirits: Eau-de-Vie

Literally meaning ‘water of life’, eau de vie is a clear and light fruit brandy produced by double distillation.

It’s distinct from brandies such as Cognac that are made with grapes.

You will find types of eaux de vie (the plural) made all around the world – from the classic poire william (pear) in France and Germany’s peach schnapps to banana and mango versions in the Caribbean and coconut arrack in Sri Lanka.

Eaux de vie are usually served at the end of a meal as a digestif.

No-alcohol spirits

If you’re attempting dry January, or if you’re looking to mix things up in general, see our newly published guide to no-alcohol spirits with 12 recommendations on bottles to try.

Editing for Decanter.com by Chris Mercer.

Out now: Decanter magazine latest issue: February 2022

More guides from our spirits section

Best no-alcohol spirits for dry January

Best single malt whiskies to try

Best rums for sipping: Eight to try

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