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Penderyn, Wales

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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Penderyn, Wales

Interestingly this welsh whisky, or wysgi in welsh, would barely scrape under the bar as a "whisky" in Scotland.  It certainly wouldn't be considered single malt for several reasons I will discuss later.  I should also disclose some bias for Wales at this point, as I graduated from the University of Wales and lived in Cardiff for four years.

The  Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) rules and regulations rightly protect the process and traditions of the industry, but it doesn't means that other methods and technology can't product a whisky (and this is whisky) of exceptional taste and quality.  In fact find it slightly ironic that the industry that was in many ways born from developing the new ideas for manufacturing whisky (the Coffey still, grain whisky and blended whisky) is so entrenched in its thinking today about what defines Scotch whisky, and inversely the sticking to old ways and traditions was one contributing factors of several that nearly completely killed the Irish industry.  Remember that those that don't learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.

That said Welsh whisky is not about to take over the world, but this is very good stuff.  The distillery in the village of Penderyn, near Brecon is modern and compact.  One reason for this compactness is that the wash is made in Cardiff at the Brain's Brewery and brought to the distillery in tanker trucks.  That in itself would exclude Penderyn from the ranks of "single malt" if it were located in Scotland.  The tour is also compact, in fact it consists of two rooms.  One room houses a history of welsh distilling and the more recent history of the distillery.  The second room is basically the tasting room and has a glass wall.  Behind the wall is the unique still Penderyn use to distill the Brain's wash into an 86 - 92% ABV spirit and a small bottling line.  

The Penderyn still is a combination of a pot still and a column still and this would again probably prevent this being considered single malt whisky, were it in Scotland, as it is not a traditional pot still.  The spirit is diluted with water drawn from a well below the distillery and put into bourbon casks, matured offsite, and then finished in Madeira casks before being bottled on site.  They also do a peated version of Penderyn which is matured in scotch casks that have previously held peated scotch and a sherry cask finished version.

After the tour they pour samples from their range of whiskies and also they offer a cream blend called Merlyn.  We also got to smell and taste the new make spirit.  There is the ubiquitous whisky shop as well.  This is an interesting distillery that makes a great product, and is well worth a visit.

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The London Distillery Company, London, England (Ver 1)

The London Distillery Company, London, England (Ver 1)

I have previously visited a closed distillery (Stitzel Weller in Kentucky, see link below) so why not vsiit one that is not even built yet?  That is what is I did in September 2012 when I visited the fledgling London Distillery Company and was given a personal tour of the former dairy cold room, located in Battersea, that will be home to the first artisinal whisky distillery in the UK.   As I have mentioned recently in my blog entry Living The Dream, the founder, Darren Rook, raised the capital for this project via an internet 'crowd funding' website in 2012.  It turns out this is not only the first London distillery in over 100 years and the UK's first craft distillery but also one of the first 200 or so companies funded in this way.  I am running out of words like "cool" and "exciting" to use about this project and I am really happy to be personally associated in a small way with it, through my own, very minor, investment.  The building work has commenced and when I return after Christmas they expect to be in production of both whisky and gin (this is London afterall) and offering "proper" tours, which I can't wait for.  I have a tour booked for December 28th.... and will update this entry after that.  As they were not operational there were no samples to try at the end of the tour, however Darren did take me to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in London along with the distiller Andrew and intern Marco for a dram or two to make up for that.  Just over 3 years from now, November 2015, we will be tasting their whisky for the first time. 

 

http://www.somanywhiskies.com/distilleries/item/332-stitzel-weller-kentucky-usa

 

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