Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Penderyn celebrate St. David's Day

our penderyn bottle at waxy o'connor'sThe 1st of March was St. David's Day - the national day of Wales on which everyone pays homage to St. David, the country's patron saint. On this day, Welsh people around the world celebrate their national identity by embracing anything Welsh, be it a stereotype (think daffodils, leeks or Tom Jones) or otherwise. Since its creation in 2000, Penderyn - the first Welsh single malt whisky to be made for over a century - has been added to the list of things to aid the celebrations. The distillery is located in the Brecon Beacons National Park and its whisky has created a strong and patriotic Welsh following. However, it has been catching the attention of the wider whisky drinking audience in the last three or four years.

waxy o'connor's bar with welsh flagNumerous Penderyn (pronounced pen-derrin) whisky tastings and events formed part of the national celebrations around the country and earlier this week, we had the pleasure of attending one such St. David's Day evening hosted by Penderyn. They took over the Waxy O'Connor's bar in central London and painted the capital's biggest Irish pub Welsh for the night (pictured, left)! The event allowed us to reacquaint ourselves with the Penderyn Madeira finish, which is the core bottling of their range. We had not tried this for a while and thought that it tasted very good on the night. We have written about it before, but felt that after this we should update our tasting notes.

penderyn welsh whiskyOur tasting notes > Penderyn Madeira finish
The colour is yellow gold and almost straw-like with a fragrant and interesting nose. It is light and vibrant with some vanilla, honey, fresh green fruits (think of apples and pears) and plenty of sugary dried fruits (imagine a combination of brown sugar and sultanas). There is also a hint of bittersweet cereals and something herbal (think of dried grass/hay). On the palate, this feels creamy and velvety - it has an initial bitter oaky woodiness (with a hint of a woody spice like cinnamon) that quickly fades to sugary caramel, malted barley and almond notes. Then the vanilla and green fruit elements from the nose come through. The combination of flavours and the balance is lovely. The finish is reasonably long and refreshing, with the enjoyable sugary sweetness giving way to a nutty, slightly spicy and woody bitterness right at the end. Delicious and very moreish.

What's the verdict?
The Penderyn Madeira finish is a lovely and easy drinking whisky that really seems to be coming of age. It feels richer, sweeter and more rounded and balanced than we remembered. That is not saying that it was bad before, just that it seems to be benefiting from maybe more time spent maturing or maybe longer in the Madeira casks. It offers an enjoyable and refreshing dram and would be a great choice for a whisky beginner. The increased complexity should also hold the interest of the more advanced whisky drinker or connoisseur. A good bargain for around £30 a bottle too.

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