Got my knuckles rapped a bit by the lads at our last tasting. They had checked out the Scotch Noob and were impressed by the amount of detail and information in the reviews. And then gave me shit for not doing enough of that. Apparently the (sometimes) kick-ass photos and rapier wit aren’t enough for these guys, especially after AJ’s review. So, yeah. Noted.
HERE’S YOUR GODDAMNED RESEARCHED ARTICLE, YOUR MAJESTIES. Wales has had whisky as long as anyone else in the British Isles, or the rest of the world, by other names, possibly as early as the 4th century AD. It died out in the 19th century because of abolitionists and temperance movements. These things are more political and less religious than you’d expect, and are tied up in trying to get the working class the vote, but basically those Straight Edge kids that annoyed you in high school almost destroyed a millennium and a half of distilling history.Fortunately for us, we narcissistic tipplers we, they bounced back by the 1990’s, and today whisky in Wales takes the form of Penderyn, named for its home town. Located in Brecon Beacon National Park, just east of the spelling-bee-coronary-inducing Ystradgynlais, it lays claim to the title of “world’s smallest distillery”, a title also claimed by Edradour in Scotland. The resurgence of welsh whisky coincides with the resurgence of Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language, including official bilingualism, a national legislature, devolution and cultural growth, and so forth. All because of Penderyn whisky (*).
(*) probably not true.
There might be a master’s or PhD thesis in finding/faking a pharmosociological link between the establishment of whisk(e)y production and independence movements around the world. I’m not saying you’d get your degree, but the research would be pretty amazing while your grants held out.
So what makes this Penderyn different from the two others we’ve tried to date? … I mean, up til now. Trust me, you don’t want to date a whisky. Anyway, this is a copper-stilled, bourbon matured, Madeira-wine-cask-finished single malt. Let’s break that down. The copper still needs something to distill, and because Penderyn is so small, they get their wash from Brains Brewery. Copper is the default still material. Bourbon is self explanatory. Maderia is a Portuguese island off Morocco, making a stabilized wine (wine with neutral wine alcohol) that would last on long voyages. This wine has a unique taste it imparts to its cask, and in turn to the whisky. Enough of the alchemy lesson, here’s what we thought:
Ryan – grape, ripe fruit
Simon – grape soda, floral perfume, purple, slight alcohol
Ryan – hits the tongue harder than expected, perfume, fennel
Simon – balsa, pith, sweet, licorice, some small nut
Ryan – honey, clears up, more like smell
Simon – becomes very creamy, almost caramel feel
Penderyn Madeira Single Malt Welsh Whisky – 46% 50ml – ??? – Wales
Try it? Yes! Buy it? Again, if you can find it.