September is Organic Food & Drink Month, a 30-day celebration of what the organic market has to offer. Once seen as a slightly hippy or quirky fad, the organic market now makes up a significant share of items purchased, with consumers actively seeking out organic products in supermarkets and grocery stores to add to their shopping baskets in increasing numbers.
The organic spirits sector is no different and shows an ever-expanding selection of award-winning drinks. Here are some of the tastiest and most pioneering that you must try.
When launched in 2006, Benromach Organic (now known as Contrasts: Organic) was the world’s first certified organic single malt whisky. It’s released in batches annually and is UK Soil Association accredited from start to finish, farm to production.
It is matured exclusively in virgin American oak casks. This pioneering Speyside whisky has won many awards around the globe and is packed with flavour – sweet and malty notes are accentuated by banana, coffee and cocoa, plus elegant baking spices. Exquisite.
The Islay distillery of Bruichladdich was another early frontrunner in the organic Scotch whisky game. Its organic release has become a much sought-after annual limited edition and one that explores how different barley grown at different farms can give different flavour profiles to a whisky.
The latest batch – The Organic 2011 – is non-peated and uses barley from a farm near Inverness. It shows delicate floral notes that marry superbly with vanilla, lemon zest and caramelised apple and pear.
Pour a dram, sip and relax.
Cognacs made using organic grapes are rare, but we have two for you on our list. This VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) sits in the well-known house of Hardy’s core range. The company was founded by Englishman Anthony Hardy when he relocated to the Cognac region in the 1860s and is now run by the fifth generation of the family.
This VSOP is also a Fine Cognac, meaning that it is made using only grapes from the prestigious Grande and Petit Champagne crus.
Elegant, aromatic and deliciously fruity, this is perfect to sip neat or over ice.
This independent and family-owned Cognac house dates to the 1730s and operates from just 14 hectares of vines. Pasquet turned fully organic in the mid-1990s and released one of the world’s first fully organic Cognacs a decade later.
Today this innovative house’s range is bottled complete with age statements and continues to push category boundaries. Expect tropical, apricot and peach notes with a pinch of warming oak spice in the 4 Years Old, and deeper flavours at 7 and 10 Years.
Mezcal, Tequila’s often overlooked sibling, is enjoying a recent surge in popularity. Mezcal Amarás have been doing things differently since it was founded in 2011, with the distillery looking to bring back ancestral and artisanal distilling techniques and make mezcal in the most sustainable and natural way. This includes using only 100% organically farmed blue agave, something which is rare to find in Mexico.
A percentage of each bottle sale also goes to supporting local initiatives promoting social and environmental responsibility.
Nowadays, new distilleries are built with sustainability in mind. But Nc’ nean in the western Highlands took it one step further to become the UK’s first certified net zero emissions whisky distillery.
It is powered by 100% renewable energy and boasts an all-female production team – a real distillery model for the future.
Therefore, it was only natural that it would make single malt from organic Scottish barley. This whisky is soft, easy drinking and packed with notes of apple, peach, citrus peel and peppery spice. Delicious.
This light and refreshing vodka from WM Spirits is made using wheat grown on family-owned organic farms in the UK and is a true field to bottle product.
As stipulated by law, the farmers use no pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers and maintain their soil using natural methods. The result is a clean and vibrant spirit that lives up to its name.
Expect earthy and spicy notes with hints of citrus and florals. An elegant sprit, it’s easy to see why PURE picks up so many awards in global competitions.
Also available as PURE Lite at 20% ABV.
The Sacred Organic Gin is produced through a bespoke vacuum in the leafy suburb of Highgate in north London. Organic gin is trickier to make that most other spirits as every single ingredient must be certified organic. Not just the wheat or barley, but every botanical included from juniper berries to orange peel to orris root.
Sacred has produced a stunner here – expect an explosion of juniper and citrus with a great earthiness and spiciness in the background.
A classic London Dry gin and perfect for a martini. Utterly delicious.
The Surrey-based Organic Spirits Co. produces its award-winning Utkins UK5 organic vodka using wheat that is biodynamically grown on a single estate farm in Austria. The crucial first distillation takes place on the farm before the spirit is shipped to the UK to undergo further distillations and packaging.
Expect a soft, gentle and pure vodka with a sweet and creamy texture. It is perfect served over ice with a twist of lemon zest or as part of a classic vodka cocktail such the cosmopolitan or dry martini. Fabulous.
The Waterford distillery in southern Ireland is currently the world’s biggest organic whisky producer and have been set up from the beginning to be so. Founded in 2015, the brand has been pushing boundaries ever since and has built up somewhat of a cult following.
Waterford work closely with over 70 organic farms in its local area and only uses barley grown at these to make its single malt. These farms have 19 different soil types, and the distillery is at the forefront of introducing the concept of terroir to the whisky world.