Friday, August 21, 2009

Penderyn Welsh Single Malt Whisky

Good luck on finding it in the US, but if you're looking for an exceptional and signally different whisky, seek out the Penderyn Single Malt Madeira Finished Welsh Whisky. It's a unique experience.

Penderyn is a small distillery---and as far as I know, still the only active distillery in Wales---but some of the whisky does make it to the US. And a good thing too.

It's not for everyone, as some of my friends who are whisky lovers find it a bit too far outside the expected norm. Since I'm not always a stickler for norms, that's not a problem for me. Penderyn is obviously---some would say outrageously----different, and thoroughly enjoyable for its difference.

Penderyn is a single malt whisky made to exacting standards---but where it differs significantly from a Scotch Single Malt is in the flavor profile.

The malt is definitely there, and the slow wood mellowing is there as well. But there's a mingling of aromas and flavors you don't generally find in this type of whisky. The key, of course, is in the Madeira Finish Barrels!

The primary wood aging for Penderyn uses bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace and Evan Williams. So far, so good. But towards the end of its aging cycle, the Penderyn is racked into old Madeira barrels---and therein lies the difference.

Now you whisky connoisseurs will leap to tell me that you've had Scotch Single Malt Madeira Finish whiskies before, so what's the big deal? Simple: Penderyn doesn't really taste at all like a Scotch, even with the Madeira similarity.

There's a definite soft toffee note in front, a touch of caramel verging over into a butterscotch/vanilla, but then a tangy, spicy, citrusy, bitter orange rings through it all, followed by a distinct note of ripe tropical fruit. Wrapped around all this abundance of aroma and flavor is the most intriguing hint of spearmint that stays and lingers into a long, long finish. I said, Penderyn might not be for everyone, and if you're a Scotch Purist, you may look askance at it. But I'd say it was worth a punt if there's any flexibility in your whisky preferences; and if you're up for new experiences, Penderyn might be your next major find.


  1. Nope, no peat. Made from a malted barley wash from a local brewery.

    I have heard that Penderyn now makes a peated whisky, but believe that is a totally separate bottling, Steve.

    So their might be mirrors, but there's no smoke!

    It's actually more similar, at base, to Irish Whisky---but Irish doesn't have that incredible bitter citrus spicy tang and spearmint that Penderyn has.