Penderyn Madeira Single Malt Welsh Whisky

Nothing says “Whisky Boom” like new distilleries cropping up in countries that have no history of whisky production. It doesn’t take long for a country with celtic ties to notice the wild explosion in international whisky fervor, and stick some new make into a few barrels. The Welsh Whisky Company built its Penderyn Distillery in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales in 2000, and began distilling whisky from a mash brewed by nearby Brains Brewery. Penderyn uses an usual pot still designed by Dr. David Faraday, which uses a 660 gallon copper pot still fed into a pair of rectifying columns. This hybrid approach produces new make in a single pass, but maintains the elegance and flavor associated with the use of copper pot stills. The spirit is aged in Buffalo Trace first-fill ex-bourbon barrels, followed by a six month dip in ex-Madeira casks. The company also sells a sherry wood expression, and a peated whisky (made by filling spirit into peated refill scotch barrels). Penderyn whisky is bottled without an age statement, and without chill-filtration.

Nose: The first word that comes to mind is “clean”. Penderyn smells clean, like freshly-folded laundry, or sparklingly clear spring water. The aroma laser-focuses on crushed nuts, lemon peel, and white chocolate fudge, with a tart high note of fresh plum or green grapes.

Palate: Creamy mouthfeel. Moderate tongue burn. Very nutty, with layers of pistachio and hazelnut over a bed of crisp roasted malt. The madeira only comes through on the end, with notes of golden raisin and a bare touch of balsamic.

Finish: Medium-long. Drying, with a bit of grape-skin tannin and even more nuttiness. Ends pleasantly, with no bitterness.

With Water: A few drops of water release a bumper crop of grape skins and white vermouth, making the nose somewhat drier. The palate is still creamy, and is undiminished by the water, which also pulls out a little more pure barley flavor. Try this both with and without water.

Overall: An excellent example of how high-quality a whisky can be made outside of the traditional whiskymaking countries. Penderyn is focused, superbly balanced, eminently flavorsome, and crystal clean. All at the correct strength – 46%. I could have been tricked into thinking this was a single-grain whisky, with all of that creaminess and clarity. A pleasure.

I marked this ‘Must Try’ because even though it doesn’t offer anything that’s unique in the whisky world, I believe that whisky drinkers should expand their horizons and taste the products – when of high quality – of every producer worldwide. With Penderyn, you can cross Wales off of your list!

Penderyn Madeira Single Malt Welsh Whisky
46% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $60 - $70
Acquired: (30ml sample bottle) masterofmalt.com
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , ,
3 Comments

3 Responses to Penderyn Madeira Single Malt Welsh Whisky

  1. Dan says:

    Actually, Wales does have a long history of whisky distillation, but production dwindled and died at the end of 19th century. The Penderyn Distillery is the first new distillery in Wales in the past century and is simply reviving an old practice (the last distillery was the Welsh Whisky Distillery Company in Frongoch, opened in 1887 and then sold/closed in 1900).

    I haven’t tried the newer Madiera 41 release, but the 46% ABV was definitely different, and certainly worth a try.

  2. Mike says:

    Into the Penderyn Portwood 41 right now, definitely recommended to try. The only other port finish I’ve tried was the Arran, and this stuff blows that away.

    • I’ve also heard good things about the Balvenie PortWood 21, although it’s out of my price range. I think Glenmorangie’s Quinta Ruban is quite good considering the price, although it won’t compare with special-editions like the ones you mention.

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