Penderyn sometimes baffles me. Despite possessing a capacity of 700,000 litres of pure spirit per annum (LPA), which puts it between Benromach and Springbank in terms of output, the distillery has seemingly always shied away from age-statements. It’s not as if Penderyn is the new kid on the block either – the distillery was launched (as ‘The Welsh Whisky Company’) shortly after the turn of the millennium and the first bottlings hit the shelves in 2004. Nearly two decades of operation and not even a sniff of a core range age-statement product.
However, irrespective of this things are obviously going well for the distillery – only a few days ago, it was announced that a second site will be constructed in Llandudno, opening in 2021, with a third planned for Swansea set to open in 2022/23. And the awards for the liquid keep flowing including the ‘European Whisky of the Year’ gong from the man in the hat last month.
The liquid is rarely bottled by independents (just SMWS and Vom Fass have taken up that mantle to date ) – however, the distillery is increasingly producing private bottlings for retailers.
Today’s release continues our mini-theme of 20th Anniversary Whisky Exchange exclusives (four of them within the past week), and is a rare age-statement release. It was distilled in February in 2008, this was matured in a single ex-bourbon cask for 11 years before being bottled a few months back at 57.2% ABV. The bottle design for Penderyn’s single cask releases differs radically from the rest of the distillery’s bottlings (which received a quiet makeover back in 2018 – gone is the exceedingly tall glassware which always used to be a marker for shelf spacing “no shorter than this please”).
The bottling launches today, and is limited to 77 bottles – a mere 57.57 litres – which makes one wonder either the size of the cask or where the rest of the liquid has got to. The single cask TWE exclusive can be bought directly via The Whisky Exchange for £99.95.
Nose: Deep fruits, rich bakery and earthy spice – stewed orchards combine with dried mango slices, lychee and apricots in syrup. Barley bread and choux buns sit alongside buttered toast, whilst cardamom infused tea and pumpkin spice are joined by vanilla pods. Reduction adds notes of buttercream, doughy bread and golden breakfast cereals.
Taste: Rich, juicy and viscous on arrival – again with an amalgamation of orchard, yellow and tropical fruits – apples, apricots, mangos and under ripe pineapple. Additional sweetness from peach melba and Fruit Salad chews gives way to cask influence - gentle peppery spice, split vanilla, and drying oakiness. Water reduces the spiciness and cask-led flavours to a mere background making for juicy fruit fest from start to finish – tinned apricots, ripe pears and sweet Gala apples.
Finish: Medium in length with the fruit contingent still present, but steadily souring on the palate alongside drying oakiness.
Taking an underlying distillate which is quite fruity and emphasising it further though sympathetic ex-bourbon maturation is often going to result in magic (at least in my book). Whilst the wood influence threatens this Penderyn, it never quite dominates its intensely fruit-forward nature, resulting in whisky which drinks well at its bottled ABV, whilst still being able to enjoy additional hydration. More mature than its 11 year old age statement implies – this is a little expensive, but a lot of quality.
Review sample provided by The Whisky Exchange