Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Whisky Discovery #63

Penderyn Madeira Finish NAS (46% abv OB Bottled 2012)
Welsh Single Malt Whisky
Circa £30.00 70cl

Penderyn Madeira Finish

For my 18th dram of the afternoon we moved quickly across to the Penderyn stand to find out more about Welsh whisky. The afternoon was coming to a close and this would be the last stand we visited during the show.

Penderyn would be the second closest distillery to me, and so due for a visit in the very near future. I'm hoping to get over to them sometime in May. I have heard some good things about the Welsh whisky, and had recent read @themisswhisky's blog post after she visited the distillery. In addition another Twitter friend @I_Fusgus had also recently visited, and was surprised by a number of differences from the usual distillery tours he had done.

The first major difference being that they do not have a mash tun nor do they have any washbacks. Most distilleries buy their malted barley nowadays and there are very few floor maltings these days. So the first stage of making whisky is to produce a high-quality malted barley wash which, in the case of Penderyn is supplied by expert Welsh brewers S. A. Brain & Co. in Cardiff. S. A. Brain was founded in 1882 and has a long tradition of brewing as Wales's premier private brewery business. Penderyn receive their malted barley wash to a strict specification at 8% alcohol by volume. It is produced using only the finest barley grain which imparts a light and fruity flavour to the wash.

The second major difference being they distil their our barley wash in a unique copper still. The whisky still at Penderyn is unlike any other: a single copper pot still producing a flavourful spirit of extraordinary strength and purity. This still was invented exclusively for them by Dr David Faraday, descendent of the ground-breaking Victorian scientist, Sir Michael Faraday.

At 92% alcohol by volume our new spirit has the highest strength of any malt whisky (or wysgi) and with just one barrel produced every day, it is also exceptionally rare.

The technical innovation of this still produces not only a barley spirit of great complexity, depth and finesse, but also removes almost all of the undesirable chemical compounds which a conventional two or three pot system cannot.

This single malt Welsh whisky defines their ‘house style of whiskies’ being distilled in their unique copper pot still, matured in bourbon barrels, finished in rich Madeira wine casks and bottled at premium strength. This single malt whisky is smooth, light in character and softly golden in colour.

At premium strength (46% vol) Penderyn single malt whisky has an exceptionally balanced taste with an aroma of cream toffee and fleetingly of fresh new leather. Then, as the initial sensations fade, the finishing notes of tropical fruits, raisins and vanilla emerge strongly and are long lasting.

So what did I think?

I was fortunate enough to obtain the remnants of one of the pouring bottles at the end of the show, it fell off the table and into my bag - honest guv. (Thank you Penderyn!)

Colour: Soft golden

Nose: Initially honey and herbal fennal "cut grass" notes and those tangy strawberry sweets my kids used to like, some barley sugar and creamy toffee. Delightfully perfumed

Palate: Smooth and light. The honey sweetness gets joined by spices and pepper. Both the vanilla and the sherry raisins balancing the flavours nicely.

Finish: Same grassy notes from the beginning, and vanilla from the bourbon cask.

I liked it, it was young and fresh. Overall, a drinkable, tasty dram with a subtle attraction.

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