For this next review we are leaving Scotland and taking a trip down south to visit our Celtic cousins, Wales. That alone possibly gives away which whisky we will be tasting today as it has made quite a name for itself having arrived on the market around 12 years ago, with a visitor centre following this in 2008, it is the Penderyn whisky, and this review will be of their Madeira cask bottling. I got given a set of Penderyn miniatures for Christmas and finally got round to opening them; I enjoyed them so much I simply had to write up a review!
Penderyn was the first distillery to be opened in Wales for over a hundred years and has been very well received by the public, both for the whisky produced and the visitor centre. Located in the village of Penderyn the distillery lies just to the south of the Brecon Beacons and welcomes in excess of 35,ooo people a year! What makes Penderyn unique within the whisky world is their custom designed still – designed by Dr David Faraday – which is a hybrid between a pot still and a column still, meaning that they only have to perform a single distillation, unlike Scotch malt whisky – where pot stills are used – which would be distilled twice. As well as this the unique design allows Penderyn to produce a much higher strength spirit from distillation, coming in at around 92% ABV, a good 20% stronger than what you would get through double distillation with pot stills.
Now I am very happy to report that this whisky is bottled at 46% ABV, unchillfiltered and natural colour, a great start. It doesn’t have an age statement but the distillery is still fairly young so that’s understandable. So let’s get down to the tasting.
Immediately the first thing that comes across from this whisky is a lot of stoned fruit, mainly apricots – possibly apricot jam – and some peaches too. It’s very soft, fresh and fruity, it’s a good spirit that has had some great influence from being stored in madeira casks. It noses like fresh and fruity white wine, just a bit stronger, obviously. There’s lychee, papaya, over ripe white grapes and fruit salad sweets. With time there are notes of vanilla ice cream and marshmallows, chocolate orange and perfumey Turkish delight. As well as all of the aromas of fruits there are also some more wood-like smells, with furniture polish, leather and resinous oak.
A great kick of spirit straight away which is just fantastic, 46% ABV which is great to see. Again soft apricots and lychees come to the fore. And again furniture polish, not that I have tried it but how you would imagine it would taste from the smell of it. There is a nice peppery and spicy development with malty biscuits and bitter grapefruit too. It is far woodier on the palate than on the nose, fresh sappy oak and acidic pine needles.
The finish is medium in length and again is dominated by stoned fruits, as well as woody vanilla and toasted oak. It’s warming and mouth-watering, with a fair acidic twist to it.
I think the Penderyn Madeira finish has the potential to be an exceptional whisky, even if it is Welsh! I think that the spirit is very light and complex with a big fruity character to it. It is still quite a young whisky but is still very good indeed; I’m really looking forward to seeing how the Penderyn develops over a few more years in the cask. At the age it is at now I am still more than happy to enjoy it, though unfortunately I have now finished my miniatures, so I may have to head to the shops to pick up a bottle as I feel this dram definitely has a place on my shelf – especially when it come in at only around the £30-£35 price range!