Penderyn is the brand name of the only single malt whisky currently made in Wales [ed: though there are foundations put in place for the second and third players to join the roster in the foreseeable future]. Penderyn, as we now it today, was originally founded as The Welsh Whisky Company, and its name has a very interesting history behind it – but we will look into that another time. Today, the distillery is based in the beautiful landscape of the Brecon Beacons, and has been making whisky since 2001. As a new venture, albeit with whisky at their heart, the brand has expanded its repertoire to include their own vodka, gin and even whisky cream liqueur. To the matter at hand though, and this whisky represents the distillery’s first main output and core product in the whisky world stored. The whisky has been primarily matured in ex-bourbon barrels before then being finished off in ex-Madeira casks. The whisky is presented in a distinctive tall and slender bottle and packaging, and has been bottled at 46% ABV.
A real Madeira wine and cake-y sweetness at first here (oh, the power of suggestion!) but it is quickly blown away by an almost chlorine-like alcoholic burn and powerful oak spice.
Sweet fudge, vanilla and caramel are delivered up front once this whisky hits the lips, but again, just like the nose, these flavours are quickly burnt away leaving a spicy, crisp, and pine-y attack from the alcohol, with only a hint at the intended Madeira influence.
Long with a lasting taste of young wood at the back of the throat and quite an acidic finish.
As a Welshman, I wanted to enjoy this whisky so much, but I’m sad to say that this is disappointing for my first Welsh whisky and/or it is just not to my tastes. Others out there seem to love it and the various initial Madeira finish releases from Penderyn regularly receive elaborate reviews and 90+ scores from Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible. Unfortunately, for me though, it’s just not yet the sweet nectar I was wishing for. I’m hoping that it is just maybe hankered by its youth and this only affects the tastes temporarily as it gets older and the barrels and their whiskies mature. These tasting notes have been made when tasting my first bottle of the whisky, which has been with me for a few years, and I’ve just not been able to get on board with it [ed: a different bottle to the one in the photo here!] Maybe the young age of the whisky is the deciding factor here, and possibly, as the whisky gets older with time in their releases, and that Madeira finish lasts longer, it may suit me better. I’m also interested to see if their peated expression can hide some of the burn with some of the ex-peated whisky cask influence and smoke. I also reckon that their first 10 year old expression will be a big seller and certainly one to keep an eye out for!