Tasting Notes: Penderyn – Yma O Hyd (Icons Of Wales No.10)

64 years is a long old time.

Just to be clear though: that is not the age of this whisky! No, that is the length of time between the Welsh National football team’s appearances at the FIFA World Cup finals.

Prior to the 2022 tournament, the first and only time that Wales had previously made it to the final stages of the World Cup was back in 1958. In all fairness, Wales made it the quarter finals back then but were knocked out of the tournament by Brazil who, not only went on to win the whole tournament for the first time, but also sported one 17 year old Pelé, who scored the winner that sent Wales back home.

Despite entering the qualifications stages for every tournament since, it was only under the captaincy of Gareth Bale and coaching of Rob Page that Wales finally returned to the final stage of the world’s largest football tournament.

‘Why am I reading about football on a whisky post?’ you may ask yourself (as I quickly gloss over their actual performance during the tournament…). It is because this whisky was released by Penderyn in the build up to Wales’ return to the world stage.

Yma O Hyd

The name is pronounced ‘Umma Oh Heed’ and is actually a reference to a Welsh folk tune of that name, written and performed by Dafydd Iwan in 1981. The song title translates to ‘Still Here’ and the song is about the survival of the Welsh language and culture: “despite everyone and everything, we are still here.” The tune was picked up by some of the players from the squad and through repeated listens became their unofficial and now official anthem, regularly belted out by ‘The Red Wall’ at games i.e. the bank of Wales supporters stood in the crowd wearing the red home strip.

This marks the 10th entry into Penderyn’s long running Icons of Wales series – which is still set to reach a total of 50 releases some day!! – and was actually released ahead of No.9 (The Headliner) as part of the build up to the tournament.

What of the whisky itself? Yma O Hyd contains the classic Penderyn formula but solely matured in ex-American Rye Whiskey Casks. The final whistle was blown at 43% ABV, and bottled without chill-filtration. Available in 70cl bottles for ca. £39 each.

Penderyn – Yma O Hyd


A pretty light and floral opening. There are sweet flower smells that remind me distinctly of fizzy sweets and honeysuckle. There’s a sweet pear flavour there too along with some milk chocolate and cinder toffee. A good little dose of baking spice behind it all.


Those sweet and floral sensations are front and centre again. Parma violets spring to mind, along with fruity/apple-like sherbet. That apple flavour builds with the oak spices into a warming autumn pudding sensation – think apple turnovers, strudels, or even Danish pastry – served with some vanilla custard.


Soft and sweet with the vanilla and toffee sweetness leading the way and the gentle touch of spice warming things and tingling the tonsils on the way down.


A really pleasant sipper. It ticks many boxes without particularly dominating in either: Light. Floral. Fruity. Sweet. And just enough spice to let it’s rye cask credentials be known. A good balance overall.

To be honest, this did not have anywhere near as much spice as I was expecting when reading that it was aged in former rye casks, but as such it remains in a good balance with the soft and sweet flavours. I would even go as far as saying that this would be a good bottle for beginners to find their way into single malts.

Matured in American Rye Casks

With Penderyn’s signature fruity notes at the base, there is a noticeably soft and creamy body to it – really driving that vanilla custard note home.

Having tried a few of the Icons of Wales series now, I can see that the more recent ones are experimenting with more unusual influences. [ed: or maybe it would be more accurate to say that they are breaking the mould of their core releases‘ origins at least]. I was totally won over by the Icons Of Wales No.6 release (Royal Welsh Whisky – see notes here) which saw a meld of both peated cask and port cask influences on the Penderyn spirit. I have also enjoyed the Icons Of Wales No.9 release (The Headliner) and the combination of Jamaican rum cask and ruby port cask maturations made for a really berry-like sticky sweet sipper. This release is a deviation again from their norm but an exciting demonstration of where their malts can be taken.

For all the Welsh connections made to date within the Icons of Wales series, this link to the Welsh football team was always going to be the one that would pique a broader interest and (hopefully) shift the units, more so than others. The use of the Welsh shirt colours on the bottle and the football pitch on the box looks great in my humble (and totally biased) opinion. The team also managed to get Gareth Bale on board to promote the whisky and therefore made this look immediately collectible. Throw in the fact that this is cheaper than most Penderyn bottles and you’ve got yourself a wide audience. Exactly how limited it is appears to be a secret, but I certainly went out to Penderyn’s sister distillery in Llandudno at the first opportunity to snap up a bottle (or two) when it came out, so as to be sure to have one ready for the World Cup. Turns out that they are still readily available direct from Penderyn (click here for access/info on all Icons of Wales releases to date) and I’ve even spotted some in the aisles of supermarkets across Wales. This was always going to be one to open though, and I’m glad with what’s in the inside, as much as I am about the outside.

Welsh team colours

This is yet another example of Penderyn sticking to non-age statement whiskies and focussing on cask influence instead. I’ll be interested to see where the next Icons point to, in terms of both the marketing promo/background and the actual maturation styles. Surely an age statement looms large in the horizon, but for now another step forward in experimentation with tasty results. Just a shame about Wales’ results in the tournament.


FAW Approved

Sample disclosure: As mentioned above, I purchased this bottle directly from the Penderyn distillery, Llandudno. All notes are intended as an honest, fair, and independent review of the whisky, and not as a promotion. Please drink responsibly. Please drink wisely.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: