Water of Life - Penderyn
Now, this is a first – while not being the most exotic source location-wise, I cannot claim having ever sampled whiskies from Wales, which is not further wondrous given that it was not until the dawn of the new millennium that whisky was resumed to be distilled.
Named after its location in the Brecon Beacons, i.e. the village of Penderyn, local fresh water was sourced to then be channelled through their specifically designed copper single-pot still and the majority of the emissions are being used to mature in ex-Bourbon casks to well-calibrated fruity and flavoursome outcome.
Penderyn Sherrywood Finish was the first dram I sampled, which adds to the maturation in ex-bourbon barrels a maturation component in ex-Oloroso Sherry casks.
As expected, what tickled the nostrils was full-bodied and on the sweeter end of things, infused by honey and sugar and accentuated by interesting herbal highlights, which seamlessly transitions to the palate where the dominant sherry notes are backed by Christmassy spices and a foundation of oak. The elongated, soft and rounded finish is a melange of sherry and oak with hints of cotton candy results in a dangerously moreish finale.
Now, let’s take things up a notch or two, shall we?
Penderyn Rich Oak is quite a telling name as after initially being aged in bourbon casks, it matures in re-charred European ex-wine casks, which results in aromas that are hitting the vanilla and honey end of the spectrum, with the backdrop being – as the name suggests – oak.
On the top of the roof, apple-cidery nuances meet, toffee and waxy vanilla, which transitions into a creamy and oily finish punctuated by candied fruit notes, toffee and floral flavours.
Given the impression the Sherrywood and Rich Oak expressions left, I was curious as to what their Peated variant would be like, especially since word around the campfire had that some of it was matured in used Laphroaig and Buffalo Trace casks.
What I liked about Penderyn’s Peated expression is that it is not trying to compete with the heavyweights but plays in its own subtle league – think of it as a peated summer dram that walks the chasms between hints of smoke derived from the casks and fresh fruit.
In essence, instead of mere pale imitation, we got a subtly complex, rustic and earthy expression that holds its own and is reminiscent of one of my favourite Islay expressions, i.e. Kilchoman Machir Bay, with more subdued aromas and a delicious marzipan backbone with hints of chili, which make it a borderline ideal pre-dinner whisky that combines some of the best attributes of the casks it is derived from mixed with a refreshing array of vanilla, green fruits and a clear savoury .