Another guest review by Mickaël Van Nieuwenhove
Happiness is found in the unexpected, at least according to the old wives’ tales. Recently, we picked up a bottle of Penderyn Myth, a Single Malt Welsh whisky. Yes, you have read that correctly. Welsh whisky is ‘a thing’, and it has even been experiencing a bit of a revival.
The manufacturing of Welsh whisky declined in the 19 th century, and it even
came to a complete halt at the end of that century. It took the Welsh people over one hundred years to revive the distilling of their golden drams. In 2000, the ‘Welsh
Whisky Company’, soon renamed to Penderyn, was founded. Four years later, the first proper Welsh whisky in over a century was distilled. Enter the Dragon!
The Penderyn Myth Single Malt is a more recent edition to the ever-expanding range of spirits produced at the distillery. This whisky (41% abv) matured in both ex-wine and ex-bourbon casks, which is rather common for whiskies nowadays. For our tasting, we subjected this single malt to the following: a pure dram, to which we added a drop of water after our first impressions, a chilled tasting, and finally we experimented with a classic cocktail recipe: the Old Fashioned.
The dram we poured smelled promising for a non-aged whisky. The first aromas our noses picked up contained a distinct flavour of pear followed by other sweet fruits such as apple and pineapple, with a hint of vanilla as a finish.
When we tried the dram, we noticed that this whisky tastes less sweet than expected. The sweet, fruity flavours soon turned into spicy ones, followed by a dry aftertaste, rather appealing to the palate. A more than decent single malt, non-aged, and possibly rather young whisky, could this be a unique phenomenon?
A drop of water revealed a more spicy flavour, mixed with the distinct grain alcohol taste, though the latter was not overpowering, which reveals a good quality of distillation before ageing.
The hints of sweetness were almost absent in this combination, and we were left wondering where the spicy flavours were coming from.
We remembered that one time we were told that spicy, peppery notes could be created by the copper still used in the distillation process, though this was never confirmed to us. We contacted Stephen Davies, the Chief Executive at Penderyn Distillery, and asked whether a pot still or column still was used. His answer, obviously, simply revealed that the distillery used its own unique pot and column still. The mystery of the spicy, peppery flavour endures. (edit: It is a unique still, called the Faraday Still, after its designer, a descendant of the famous lightning struck scientist)
As we like to push our reviews to the limit here at The Cocktail Nation, we did a tasting of a chilled dram. This was a no-go, as the flavours were all replaced by the grain alcohol and a bitter finish. When we left our drams to warm up to room temperature, the sweetness and spicy/peppery flavour soon returned. “Curiouser and Curiouser! [We were] so much surprised, that for the moment [we]
quite forgot how to speak good English (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)”.
The Penderyn Myth is a single malt that seems to have been made for those early autumn evenings, when you gather with your friends around the first Swedish Fire Torch of the season. It is delicate, surprising, and enjoyable to drink as a straight alcoholic beverage. We could not just leave it at that though.
The spicy/peppery flavours inspired us to use this whisky to create our own version of an
Old Fashioned, which we fittingly called “The Old-Fashioned Dragon”. The result was as expected:
a spicy version of a classic cocktail. Experimental, yes, but not too daring.
Alternatively, you could also create a “Dragon’s Neck”, our simple variation on the “Horse’s Neck”, which will make you roar like a true dragon!
Iechyd Da! (that’s cheers in Welsh…or so they told me)