For many in the UK, Monday 17th May 2021 marks an important day in the return to some form of normality as the pandemic-related restrictions eased up. Hugs have been sanctioned. People can now meet indoors in limited numbers, and, the hospitality industry can get its own much-needed shot in the arm as pubs, cafes and restaurants can open their doors again and welcome customers indoors.
The 17th May 2021 will also stand as a landmark date for North Wales in its whisky making history for two reasons: 1) Aber Falls distillery in Abergwyngregyn launches its inaugural whisky; and 2) Penderyn opened its second site to the public on the North Wales coastal town of Llandudno.
On 5th May 2021, the team at Aber Falls distillery started to bottle their first official ‘whisky’ – spirit that they have crafted and matured on site for the all-important 3 year minimum spell – and announced a 17th May launch date. The single malt welsh whisky or ‘whisgi cymreig‘ is limited to an initial 2,000 bottles that will be sold via their site and handful of other distributors. The bottling contains a marriage of malt whiskies that have matured in a combination of American Virgin Oak, Sherry and Orange Wine casks, combined with fresh water from the falls themselves to be bottled at 46% ABV and available at a very reasonable £45 GBP.
The queues formed at their distillery and all bottles had sold out from their site and website rather swiftly. Unfortunately, we were some of the unlucky ones who could not make it through the digital throng, but all is fair in love and whisky, and hats off to the team at Aber Falls for selling out, and the initial favourable reviews. With an interesting initial set of casks to create this inaugural release, this is definitely one distillery to keep an eye on. Site available here.
On St. David’s Day 2004, Penderyn was the first whisky made and sold in Wales in some 100 years. The last one being the Royal Welsh Whisky, which, ironically, was made in North Wales – therefore linking the Aber Falls launch to this one. It seems appropriate then that on 17th May 2021, Penderyn opened its doors to the public for the first time from its new distillery and second site, based in Llandudno.
The site has been kitted out with a Faraday style still similar to the one built in the primary Penderyn site in the Brecon Beacons in South Wales, but the site will reportedly look to focus on producing peated malt whisky – something the southern site has never produced [ed: all peated whiskies released by Penderyn to date have picked up their peat notes from the casks, rather than the original malted barley.] The site looks stunning, and its first customers have come away very impressed with the site and particularly their tasting room. The site will open up to tours in June. Site available here.
In the meantime, I will raise a glass of this Icons of Wales Penderyn whisky – which was created as a close replica of that last bottled (North) Welsh whisky from the 1900s – for both of these success stories and to the future of North Wales whisky production. We’ll be winging our way down the A55 to them both as soon as we can.