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Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Only Dram in The Village....

Joel, after a little too much Christmas pudding,
poses in his new catsuit.

Snow has descended on London and of course, everything stops working. So rather than head into town for the sales like every other crazy person, I've decided to stay by the fire with my faithful companion Bobby and watch a particularly festive scene unfold in Penge, where Caskstrength towers are located. Some of the neighbours have forgotten to take down their Christmas lights and i'm presented with a winter scene best served up a few weeks ago, with mulled wine and a few mince pies.

I have just finished the remainder of our Christmas pudding, but feel a glass of mulled is taking it a step too far (remember this nutter, who lives every day like Christmas day??) I fancy a little whisky.

So step in something different from the usual suspects- in late December, we received 2 samples from Welsh pioneers Penderyn which i'd been meaning to devour. Now seems a perfect time...

Penderyn have set themselves the benchmark of being the first welsh distillery for over 100 years after the Ffrongoch Distillery in Bala, North Wales charged its stills for the last time in the late 1800's.
Wales has had an undeniably lengthy association with whisky, dating back to the 4th century. Archaeology shows the presence of small stills dotted around Wales and Evan Williams, one of the names synonymous with American bourbon had family in Pembrokeshire. But as we entered a new millenium, the welsh distillation process was well and truly bought back to life, with Penderyn releasing its first whisky on St David's day in 2004.

The stills are apparently fairly unique in their design, created by Dr David Faraday, a direct descendant of none other than Sir Michael Faraday, with the spirit being produced at an astonishing 92% ABV. The distillery has always matured in bourbon casks and elected to finish it using Madeira wood. So we were very interested indeed to try 2 relatively different styles of whisky- a limited edition peated version and the distillery's Sherrywood bottling.

So, without further ado, let's get stuck in and 'Iechyd da'!

Penderyn - Peated - 2009 bottling - 46% - ltd to 5000 bottles per year.

Nose: A really interesting mix of slightly burnt, brittle caramel, some light floral notes and a mere whiff of something peaty. It's unlike other more obvious peated styles, in that this is not a dry, fireside style smoke, but very sweet and perfumed, almost aromatic. Dig a little deeper and you'll encounter hints of fruit salad and some cereal notes too.

Palate: It's clear from the outset that this is a young whisky and it feels like there's definitely a lot of room to develop, but there is certainly flavour tucked away in there; Hot and spirity at first, then a little licorice, vanilla, some dried banana and more of that bitter-sweet caramel.

Finish: Touches of spice linger on the palate and the last remnants of the vanilla leave you with a pleasant fresh taste in the mouth.

Overall: What this lacks in age, it certainly goes some way to make up for in flavour. Neither the peatiest, nor characterful dram, but something entertaining nonetheless.

Sir Tom Jones and Dame Shirley Bassey
- perhaps on an 'off' day.

Next up: Can the Sherrywood bottling delight us like the mighty Tom and Shirley, or will it be more Gavin and Stacey? (regular readers will know that I have a strong aversion to anything which features Messrs. Horne and Cordon- and their Welsh/Essex based 'comedy' does little to rectify this)

Penderyn - Sherrywood bottling - 46%

Nose: Hello. Something deliciously fruity and perfumed in here, rich and heady, rather like the aroma one could imagine when kissing the hand of Dame Shirley herself. Coupled with that some white chocolate notes and some unmistakable chopped hazelnuts. Very good indeed.

Palate: The freshness of the Penderyn is immediately there, but it is enhanced hugely by some lovely oily fruitiness, some country fudge, dried apricots and then a hint of drying wood.

Finish: Some lingering dryness, but it's fruit all the way into a well rounded and lengthy finish.

Overall: A real treat, with the nose being the most striking aspect of this dram. The palate again demonstrates a youthful whisky, but certainly well worth investigating.