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Wales has a rich history of whisky making, but the last distillery ceased production in 1894 and the industry then fell silent for more than a century.
When a group of friends met in the late 1990’s for a drink and a catch-up, the conversation meandered towards this lost industry and a few began to wonder what it would be like to bring distilling back to the Welsh countryside. From this conversation a plan began to grow and in 2000, the Welsh Whisky Company was launched and a location secured at the village of Penderyn on the southern tip of the Brecon Beacons.
Employing the services of the late Dr. Jim Swan to aid with the project’s creation proved a masterstroke. The great mans talent for setting up a distillery in such a way that it would hit the ground running was legendary and he oversaw everything in those early days, acting as master blender and training the staff onsite in the dark arts of distilling. Swan sadly passed away in 2017 but his legacy lives on through not only Penderyn, but Kavalan, the Cotswolds Disitllery, the London Distilling Company, Victorian Caledonian in Canada and Annandale, Kilchoman, The Clydeside and Lindores Abbey in Scotland, all of whom owe him a great debt.
Penderyn began retailing in 2004, the first commercially available Welsh whisky in over 100 years. Though matured predominantly in American Oak Bourbon Casks, the Penderyn distillers have also been experimenting with a variety of finishes, all of which are matured in the extensive cellars onsite. The business has been a great success, exporting to the likes of China, Taiwan, Russia, Australia and France, while the distillery itself welcomes around 35,000 visitors each year.
The Penderyn Madeira Finish is bottled at 46% and should cost around £40, based on UK pricing.
Smell: Peculiar Herbal, almost Gin-like nose with Vanilla, Strawberry and Banana.
Taste: Banoffee, Digestive Biscuits and Snickers Bars, Gingery Spice. Perhaps a touch of youth about it but decent weight on the palate.
Value for Money: An unusual whisky that may take a few drams to fully appreciate. The decision to bottle at 46% allows far more flavour and weight to be delivered, and makes for a rather intriguing purchase.
Scores: 43 / 50. About the Scores…