Celebrating St David's Day: Wet your whistle with Welsh Whisky
Updated: May 22, 2020
Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!
With Saint Patrick’s Day around the corner, there is sure to an abundance of Jameson and Paddy’s and even the likes of Teeling being poured in pubs and bars across the world.
Thanks to the novelty green, leprechaun hats and with over 1/5 of all Americans claiming Irish descent, Paddy’s day is kind of hard to avoid.
Saint David’s day on the other hand seems to be a bit more sobering than its Irish neighbours.
An image of St. Patrick dancing on a table while St. David sits behind the duke box whispering insults under his breath comes to mind. I don’t know if the two drank in the same pub, but it’s a nice thought none the less.
Regardless, David’s Day was on March 1st as a firm believer that every major day requires its own unique tipple; I’d like to draw your attention to Penderyn.
Though it’s not necessarily a household name yet, Penderyn is increasing in popularity and can hold its own against many of the Irish and Scottish counterparts.
So a bit of history: allegedly there was a chap named Reaullt Hir who was a Welsh warrior around AD 360. He supposedly learnt how to distill mead that the monks had made thus creating “wysgi”. (However you just said that, it wasn’t a welsh accent. If you already have a Welsh accent, I’ll let you off, it was probably quite good.)
The next time Welsh whisky came into focus was when a small distillery opened up in Pembrokeshire during the early 1700s. It was owned by the Evan Williams family who later moved off to help out the Bourbon movement over in the US. Small world.
From here Welsh whisky gets a bit odd. Traditionally, herbs played a much bigger part in the flavouring of the spirit than casks did making it more of liqueur than the spirit we know today.
Penderyn is situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park and started selling its whisky in 2004. It is currently the only distillery in Wales that is producing whisky which makes it a tourist’s dream that can rival the likes of Edradour. It has one single copper pot still which makes it really quite unusual.
Set to a back drop of the finest music the nation has to offer, myself and a whisky loving friend set out to try three of their single malt whiskies. And here’s what we reckoned they taste like:
1. Madeira Cask
Nose – Apple Pie with some buttery pastry, or it could be apple crumble. Something with apples...
Palate – Poached pears, weird bit of menthol going on with some herby background.
Finish – A little plastic, new cars.
2. Sherry Wood
Nose – Wood smoke but definitely not peat. Cherry Bakewell.
Palate – A bit like my mum’s Christmas pudding and leather, not a bad thing.
Finish – Orchard fruits.
3. Peated Cask
(bit of an interesting one – the whisky isn’t actually peated, it just tastes like that from peated casks!)
Nose – Smells pretty young. But then it’s all about burnt butter and it gets pretty ace.
Palate – Pretty damn sweet, then it goes all into a mossy kind of tree bark vibe. Weird.
Finish – trying to get over the fact it’s obviously very young. But I do actually like it.
Want some whiskey in your water? Sugar in your tea…
Possibly too tenuous a link but I couldn’t resist a Tom Jones pun.
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