Before 2004, there hadn’t been an established whisky producer in Wales for a century. Penderyn changed all that. Whisky from the Brecon Beacons is now sold throughout the UK and in more than 20 countries worldwide.
In 2004, a group of whisky enthusiasts commissioned a team of scientists to design a new still. Next, all they needed was a site with access to plenty of water.
Situated on moorland with a natural spring (the water adds subtle minerals and a distinctive flavour notes to the whisky), Penderyn near Hirwaun in the western Brecon Beacons proved the perfect spot.
Penderyn has been making liquor aged in wooden barrels including Madeira wine casks, sherry barrels and port barrels, and a smoky peated version, ever since. As well as single malt whiskies, Penderyn makes Brecon Gin and other spirits.
Under managing director Stephen Davies – a former steel industry man who appreciates the contrast in his working environment – there are plans to buy two new stills which will triple production.
Awards and accolades
The Penderyn Distillery has won a long list of impressive awards including an International Wines and Spirits Competition 2012 silver award for its Brecon Special Reserve Gin. In a blind tasting at the same internationally-recognised competition, Penderyn Single Malt Welsh Whisky won a silver medal in the best world whisky class. Not bad for a newcomer to the whisky scene dominated for so long by the Scots and Irish. In 2013, Penderyn was cited in top critic Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2013 as the top European single malt of the year.
The distillery visitor centre and shop is open daily, 9am–5pm. Whisky tour and tasting sessions cost £6 per person and run hourly (call to book ahead). Whisky Tasting Masterclasses are available on request.Penderyn Distillery, Penderyn, Rhondda Cynon Taff CF44 0SX, Wales, 01685 810651, www.welsh-whisky.co.uk