A commemorative bottling
The Six Nations rugby tournament started last weekend, so it seems like a good time to review this rugby related whisky that we sampled recently. The Six Nations is an annual tournament that involves England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. We are not the biggest fans of rugby but we are fans of whisky and this one is from Penderyn, the only Welsh whisky distillery. It was first released two years ago to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and was limited to just 1250 bottles.
First Welsh whisky for 100 years
Penderyn (pronounced Pen-derrin) is the only single malt whisky distillery currently operating in Wales. It is located in the village of the same name, on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park in south Wales. The distillery is one of the youngest in the UK and is owned by the Welsh Whisky Company, which set up by a consortium of local businessmen. The WWC was formed in 1998 and production began at Penderyn in September 2000. Penderyn is the first legal distillery to produce single malt whisky in Wales for over 100 years. The previous one was named Frongoch (pronounced fran-gok) and closed in 1900. It was located in the town of Bala in north Wales.
Older, longer, higher!
The whisky is labeled as Rich Madeira and is firstly matured in ex-bourbon casks, before being transferred to Madeira casks for one year. The regular Penderyn release undergoes the same order of maturation but this Rich Madeira is older, has a longer Madeira influence and is higher in alcoholic strength than the regular release. The whisky is bottled at 50% ABV, costs £125 a bottle and can only be purchased directly from the Penderyn website. On our recent visit to Penderyn, they told us that they still have a few bottles of this commemorative bottling left, so hurry if you fancy a bottle!
Our tasting notes
The colour of the whisky is dark golden amber and the nose is fragrant and aromatic. It has a rich, sumptuous feel and is sweet with sugary caramel prominent, along with dried fruits (think of raisins, sultanas and apple), some candied orange peel and a whiff of woody spices (imagine cinnamon and nutmeg). On the palate, the sweetness and richness is again prominent, although this feels less like caramel and a little more like crumby brown sugar now. The dried fruits are there - raisins and sultanas, with the candied orange peel particularly distinctive. There is a further lovely green fruitiness and this combines with the sugary note to give something reminiscent of stewed apples. The cinnamon/nutmeg warm spice notes emphasise this. Due to the strength, we added a dash of water and this bought out some woodiness (think of damp wood) and a slightly bitter grassy herbal note, which balanced the sweetness well. The finish is long, warming and enjoyable with the sugary fruitiness fading slowly.
What's the verdict?
This is a lovely whisky. We were lucky enough to sample five whiskies during our visit to Penderyn and both of us voted this one as our favourite. It offers good balance and character and has plenty of sumptuous notes. The whisky feels velvety and soft and gives you a lovely big, warm cwtch (that's the word for cuddle in Welsh and it's pronounced kutch - thanks to Sian at Penderyn for that little piece of info!).