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My wife, brother and sister in law went to Helvetica a few weeks ago for a series of Australian whisky tastings. I'd already attended a tasting series that involved a pairing of chocolate and whisky that had been entertaining and was really looking forward to this tasting as the head distiller/owner of my favorite distillery, Limeburners, was going to be in attendance.
As usual I had a taxi waiting for me as soon as I got off work so that my wife and I could head straight to Helvetica, the local whisky bar, as soon as I was off in order to make it in time.
When we arrived my wife and I went straight upstairs where the tastings are normally held. As soon as I got up there I ran into the manager, a very nice lady who knows me by name and sight, who looked at me and laughed.
"You're ALWAYS early SquidgyAsh"
"Better early then late" I reply.
She looks a little flustered so I ask her if she'd prefer us to wait downstairs at which point she says that would be easier for her and why don't we grab ourselves a drink.
My wife and I went back downstairs to wait for the tasting to be ready and for my in laws to arrive.
As I waited I looked at the drinks menu and I noticed that they had a Penderyn, which I've been keen to try, specifically the expression called, Aur Cymru.
Realistically I knew NOTHING about this whisky and distillery going in other then that I wanted to try it.
I wait eagerly as the bartender takes my order and then my wife and I see my brother and sister in law come into the bar. We wave to them as the bartender brings my drink to me.
It's poured into a tuliped glass and it looks light and lovely.
I grin at my brother in law as he looks at me and asks me what I'm drinking.
"Nothing yet, since you interrupted me" I inform him with a grin.
We then decide to get down to the serious business of trying this whisky as we wait for the tasting to be ready.
We nose the glencairn and it's quite lovely and soft. Lots of cinnamon, fruit specifically apples and raisins, some nuts and berries and there is a bit of tannic element.
Interesting and not quite like anything I've tried before.
Time to taste!
Now my brother in law decided he needed to try this too so he ordered himself a dram just as I'm getting ready to taste this whisky which wound up being somewhat a disappointment.
As I taste the first thing that stands out is that it's quite spicey and peppery. Almost like Talisker, but not in good way that Talisker is. Talisker has always given me the impression that there pepperiness is deliberate. This didn't feel the same. There's fruit and vanilla, mainly raisins, bits of leather, but that spice is overshadowing the rest of the whisky and not in a good way.
The finish is of decent length with quite a bit of oak in it. But thankfully oak isn't the only flavor, the spices and peppers come back into play and a little bit of playful pears pop up which makes the finish quite a bit more enjoyable then I feared.
This isn't a bad whisky, I'd like to see an advanced version of it, but it wasn't what I was looking forward to considering the many good things I'd heard about the distillery.
As for trying to find a bottle of this in Australia all I can say is good luck my friend. It's going to be difficult and at best guess I'd say to prepare yourself to spend $150AUS per bottles.
I'd be happy to try this again, but I wouldn't buy a bottle of it until I have a couple more tastes under my belt.