As the days start to shorten and the weather takes a turn for the worse, my thoughts turn from the farm to the distillery again. Feels like it’s time to get the still fired up once more.
With harvest done and dusted and all the cattle now inside for the winter, we can finally look back over the last year.
The main theme has to be the exceptionally hot dry summer. Spring was kind, and we got all the crops sown during the good conditions and in good time. Everything was getting off to a strong start and it was looking like the season had tremendous potential.
The unusually hot (or unusual for here anyway!) and dry summer stressed the barley crops and stopped grass growth in its tracks. Despite having no grass and needing to be fed silage all summer, the cattle enjoyed having the sun on their backs and did very well. Although we might now be a bit short of forage for the winter.
The good weather stayed around for harvest, resulting in one of the earliest and easiest harvests ever. With the price of fuel this year, we were fortunate not to incur any drying costs.
Overall, barley yields have been very variable, and the crops on lighter, drier and sandier soils suffered most. Those planted on soils that could retain more moisture did much better. Our worst field yielded just over a tonne and a half to the acre, while our best did three and a half tonnes per acre. Overall, we are probably down 150 to 200 tonnes on what we might have hoped to get. This being said, the grain quality has been good this year. Only one field failed to make malting quality, and as it was sown after grass it was to be expected.
Everyone is always asking what bottlings are coming next. I am currently working on some single casks which are being bottled for various markets. Once I get that done, I need to get the winter release out. This year it will be from 2010. Following that, the USA is overdue another batch. That should keep me pretty busy for the foreseeable future.