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First Welsh whisky for 100 years

The first Welsh whisky for over 100 years is about to hit the shelves – and experts say it’s going to be good.

The premium single malt, Penderyn, is being made at the Gwalia Distillery in the Brecon Beacons (pictured) in mid-Wales. The first bottles will be four years old, to be followed by older releases.

It is produced by the Welsh Whisky Company with barley malt from Cardiff. Experts say it has a mellow, rounded taste that is lighter than Scotch whiskies, and matures more quickly. The makers have opted to use the Scottish spelling, rather than the American or Irish ‘whiskey’.

‘The distillation and maturation process at Penderyn produces a whisky that has a smooth, unique style and is easy to drink, delicate and full of flavour,’ connoisseur Dr Jim Swan said.

He added, ‘When it has matured it is likely to become one of the best single malts on the market – in the top 20 of malts worldwide.’

Until the end of the 19th century Wales had a long tradition of whisky making, like its Celtic neighbours Scotland and Ireland. In the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountains, Snowdon and the other Welsh hills and mountains, the streams run through peaty soil that produces water as mellow as any in Scotland or Ireland.

But the Welsh whisky industry could not survive the great non-conformist religious revival in the mid-1800s, when alcohol of any kind was denounced as the work of the Devil. The last Welsh distillery, near Bala in north Wales, closed at the end of the century.

The tradition has now been revived by the Welsh Whisky Company. And, the BBC says, by using former Bourbon casks to mature the whisky, they are tapping into another piece of Welsh history – the fact that many of the founders of the American whiskey industry were Welsh immigrants.

Written by Adam Lechmere, and agencies

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