Think of wales and the image of rolling hills, singing in the valleys and of course Tom Jones on stage with women flinging their knickers at him..
The welsh also have a rather decent rugby team and a chap named Gareth Bale who had he been born abroad would be talked about in the same breath as Messi and Maradona, unfortunately he’s welsh so outside of Wales and the Tottenham fans he is very under appreciated..
Anyway Welsh whisky.. Its almost as absurd as whisky made in England or India, Switzerland or Germany but hey it happens !! The welsh have infact been making whisky or rather they did make whisky as in 1889 the welsh whisky company was founded at a cost of 10 million pounds in todays money !!
Queen Victoria herself visited the distillery in 1891 and on the 26th January 1895 the distillery received the royal warrant, unfortunately in April of 1903 the doors were closed permanently.
Today it is the turn of Penderyn to carry the tradition on and amongst the range is a release of Royal Welsh Whisky..
Although the distillery is producing whisky to sell around the world like its neighbouring England the whisky is not always looked upon with favouritism.. The distillery was founded in 2000 with the first sales coming in 2004, and although if you visit the distillery today most of the production does resemble that of a Scottish distillery with the typical pot still shape but look close enough and you find the original Faraday still which produces spirit to an eye watering 92% abv…. The easiest way to describe the shape is the bottom of a pot still with a 24 plate column still placed on top, the distillery operated two of these before adding the traditional pair of stills in 2015.
Production capacity is around the 300,000 litres per year mark and is overseen by an all women distilling team of which they are rather proud off, and distillery manager Laura Davis who I managed to sit down with a few years ago really does show the utmost pride in her position and her team at the distillery..
Penderyn Portwood Finish.
This expression has spent the initial period maturing in Bourbon barrels before receiving a finishing period in Ruby Port casks, bottled at 46% this is Non chill filtered and all natural colour.. The packaging is rather fetching too having gone through a revamp and bottle upgrade which incidentally proudly boasts the words “Welsh Gold” or ” Aur Cymru ” if you wish to learn a little welsh !
Region .. Wales
Casks.. Ex Bourbon / Ruby Port casks
Nose.. Plum, apricots and summer berries lead nicely into a rich chocolate note, pineapple and a touch of honey and orange peels give a little extra dimension.
Palate.. There is a slightly more spice prickle within the first mouthful than I expected and it takes a little time for the sweetness to develop. There are the dried fruits, exotic fruits and a nice dollop of sweetness in the form of toffee, caramel and vanilla along with some chocolate notes trying to hide in the background..
Finish.. Youthful notes with fruit mingling within.
Thoughts.. I have always felt with Penderyn that it needs to be aged a little longer, my opinion still stands..
This does take quite a while to really open up and show off the aromas and flavours it holds within, they are there you just have to be patient and if you rush in, then this is rather subtle and shy..
There are some really good moments within the dram but it all feels too short, the finishing period is almost there but again it just feels a little more time is needed to really showcase what that Port cask has to offer.
The underlying spirit is unique and very different, it seems to stay with the product through the short ish maturation and that I am sure is down to the Faraday stills, it carries a distinct aroma and flavour which leads you into thinking this is rather young and who knows maybe one day they will mix the spirits, mix it to a higher ratio or even do a side by side expression to really showcase the difference in production methods and remove that spirity note..
What would be nice is if they started to mature longer in order to remove the youthful note that runs through the spirit, do full maturations in these sherry / wine casks or release the spirit from the typical pot stills for comparison.
I do think this will be one of those expressions that grow on you and after a few drams you will understand the spirit a little more and with that the appreciation will come.
This is one of those malts that you need to try for yourself, the flavours are different and what suits me may not suit you and vice versa..