Friday Focus - Nc'nean Distillery
What does sustainability mean in the world of whisky? The term has certainly become an environmental buzz word in recent years but it has perhaps never been more significant than the present, as our climate crisis deepens and both businesses and individuals are (or soon will be forced to) examine the important part we each play in protecting our planet.
A degree of scepticism surrounds so called 'Greenwashing' whereby companies project the idea that they are making an active and valuable contribution to the cause so it's important to perhaps look to those companies that actively embrace the values of sustainability and champion the movement for change.
'Neachneohain - Queen of Spirits'
Nc'nean hold sustainability at the heart of their operation. Founded by Annabel Thomas, they bottled their first whisky as recently as 2020.
The name Nc'nean certainly alludes to the ethos of the company, an abbreviation of the word Neachneohain in Gaelic mythology meaning 'Queen of Spirits, a fierce protector of nature and lover of all things wild'. This certainly makes sense in terms of what they are working to achieve here.
And it doesn't stop at just the name. Nc'nean try to be as honest and transparent about their operation and the manufacturing of the product as possible and you come away from their website with not just an understanding but an education regarding sustainability in distillation and what that entails. They actively report and publish their progress on an annual basis.
Their ethos is clear from the beginning in using only 100% organic barley through promoting sustainable farming practices which encourage biodiversity and good soil health. Then there's the distillation process operating on 100% renewable energy with a zero waste policy, attempting to recycle and reuse 99.97% of all site waste, from used grain to water. The stunning bottle produced from 100% recycled glass is beautifully imprinted with a wildflower and foliage illustration perhaps reflective of the provenance and organic origin of its liquid content. Nc'nean offer the gift box as optional allowing consumers the opportunity to cut down on unnecessary waste and the box itself is made from 90% recycled card and is fully recyclable.
Nc'nean Single Malt Whisky
Nc'nean whisky has a distinctive fruity quality with depth of flavour created through both the fermentation process combining two different types of yeast and further flavour coming from maturation in a mix of ex-Bourbon and red wine casks. Since its launch the distillery has been releasing whisky in batches.
On the nose we get hints of eucalyptus, honey, sweet peach, lemongrass, apricot and fresh barley with a lightly spiced pear, wholemeal sourdough along with a hint of butterscotch on the palate. A very drinkable dram which is great neat but would also mix very well in a highball cocktail. Nc'nean recommend their Whisky Six recipe, which sounds great! We currently have Nc'nean batch 11 & 12 in stock here at Abbey Whisky.
To us, Nc'nean represent hope and innovation. They certainly inspire us to do better. The distillery is located in an idyllic part of the world (one of our personal favourites). Now the days of restricted travel are behind us we're excited to visit soon and learn more. Until then we're away to pour ourselves a Whisky Six and toast the arrival of the weekend!
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