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Gangway Spring Barley Curraghmore Whiskey Aug 2022

So what makes great malting barley?

This is our Gangway Spring Barley, which we think is great malting barley, and it’s coming along really nicely – it’s turning a lovely golden colour and it’s filling nicely… you can see each ‘bud’ is getting nice and plump as it fills with nutrients. We anticipate that this will be ready to harvest in about 3 or 4 weeks’ time – depending, as always, on the weather between now and then. Ideal conditions are warm and dry – so fingers crossed! We’ve had a really agreeable year weather-wise, so everything is progressing really nicely.

Gangway Spring Barley Curraghmore Whiskey Aug 2022


So what makes great malting barley?

There are a few factors to consider – first up the type and variety of barley are really important. Ideally, the barley will be strong, disease resistant and hardy, able to survive changes in weather and conditions and still yield a strong crop. We’re currently growing Gangway Spring Barley, meaning it was planted in spring (end of march to be exact) and is of the gangway variety – ideal for our soil conditions. 

Soil is key – the type of soil you plant the barley in is paramount to the output of the harvest. The soil needs to be in the right condition – with the right Ph and good levels of phosphate potash, you’re setting up the seed to establish well and get a good start. 

There are certain specifications you need to achieve for malting barley – and the most important one is low protein levels. This is achieved by adding nitrogen at sewing, and then again at the 2 leaf stage, and keeping a really close eye on it. Protein levels are critical – too much and you can’t malt it!

Weather is always a contributing factor to any crop, and so far so good this year – we have no complaints! Where Curraghmore is located, in the southeast corner of Ireland, is renowned for having an ideal climate for growing malting barley. We get occasional bursts of warm weather coming over from France, and there is always a high moisture level in the climate here too, which makes for perfect barley growing conditions. 

Experience is probably one of the most underrated elements of a successful malting barley crop – the skills and insights that are passed down from generation to generation of tillage farmers really can’t be bought or taught – and it’s these skills that are intrinsic to maximising the output of your crops. We’re lucky to have a very talented tillage team, led by Ned Morrisey, so our malting barley is in safe hands! 

We’ll report back in a few weeks with footage of the harvest, so stay tuned! 

Meanwhile, for more information on the whiskey-making process, check out this page.

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