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Penderyn Madeira Finish

Average score from 14 reviews and 28 ratings 78

Penderyn Madeira Finish

Product details

  • Brand: Penderyn
  • Bottler: Unknown
  • ABV: 46.0%

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Penderyn Madeira Finish

Aur Cymru means as much as Welsh Gold, which obviously refers to the single malt from Wales that you will find inside the bottle. It is Penderyn’s entry level malt. Penderyn is currently the only distillery in Wales. The malt was finished in Madeira casks. This is a Portugese fortified wine that keeps quite long. Madeira, by the way, is Portuguese for wood. This is a NAS expression, but someone whispered in my ear that the malt matured for 5 to 6 years. The nose is quite light, fruity, but with a bittersweet smell of rotting oranges or overripe grapes. I even get some smoked meat. Underneath is a lot of tropical fruit in the guise of melon, mango and even some kiwi. Loads of freshly sawn wood as well. Touch of vanilla. After a few moments the smoked meat turns into praliné. But the sweet and sour notes dominate. It has a good body, but is also quite spicy and even a tad sharp (being so you, that is easily forgiven). The unpleasantness from the nose turns into quite a pleasant palate. Yes, this is quite good in fact. I am reminded a bit of Bushmills. A bit of pepper, some bitter oak, but mostly sweet fruit. Again the tropical variety. And oh so dangerously quaffable. From the second sip, this goes down like lemonade. The finish is not exactly long, but calling it short would be unfair. It remains bittersweet until the death, like an orange marmalade. The nose did not really convince me, but it is all good on the palate. More than good, in fact. I wonder what this would taste like after fifteen years of maturation.


Penderyn distillery is located in the village of Penderyn, about 50 kilometres north of Cardiff in the South of Wales, and was established in 1998 by the Welsh Whisky Company. Production started in 2000, and the first single malt was launched in 2004. Penderyn's production process differs somewhat from other distilleries. Firstly, they use a pre-made fermented wash that is made to their specifications at the Cardiff-based Brain's brewery; this would not be possible in the Scottish whisky industry where the mashing and fermentation processes must happen on the same site as the distillation. Secondly, the complete process from wash to new make is done in a single copper still that was designed by David Faraday, a descendant of Michael Faraday, the famed scientist. The still has three main sections that are linked together: A copper pot still has a pipe leading from the top to another column-still-like structure and the final spirit is collected in a huge glass bulb still safe. The Penderyn Madeira finish is the distillery's standard expression. It has been matured in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in Madeira wine casks.

The nose is light, floral, and fruity with apples and grapes. There is also a rather distinct grassy element, followed by a healthy dose of wood spice. Overall I found this nose intriguing and rather pleasant, but also a bit difficult to grasp.

The palate is light-bodied and grassy. Lemon zest takes centre stage, followed by hints of sweet vanilla and malty flavours.

The finish is of medium length, spicy, and pleasantly warming. Hints of ginger appear towards the very end.

This is the first Penderyn expression that I tried, and I would say the best word to describe it is "different". It is obvious that we are dealing with a young whisky here, 4-5 years old at most, and this comes through in the underlying roughness that to a certain degree is masked by the sweetness coming from the Madeira casks. Now I tend to quite like younger whiskies if they come with a decent profile but here I was struggling to grasp the essence. Although quite pleasant this was a bit all over the place – difficult to describe, really. It will not become a permanent fixture in my whisky cabinet but was absolutely worth trying.

@paddockjudge, while Forty Creek Evolution and Collingwood 21 yo Rye are quite unusual, I don't find them too difficult to describe. Evolution has a lot of wine and rye flavours, and the wine flavours change quickly in that whisky, which I'm actually finding pretty enjoyable. I've grown to like that oddball whisky more with exposure. I look forward to having more of it from that bottle of it you gave to my sister.

The Collingwood Rye actually smelled and tasted to me strongly of boiled cabbage. I had the words for it, I just didn't like those flavours in rye whisky.

An example of a whisky which I found very difficult to describe was Bruichladdich Black Art 2.2. That one had lots of faint, unusual flavours, and seemed to shift emphasis quickly. The flavours were different, hard to pin down, and changing. That observation was from the recently opened bottle. After the bottle took a few months of air the flavours became more defined and uniform.

Another example is Michter's Bourbon, which I haven't tasted for several years now. That one has for me a medicinal quality which reminds me of Laphroaig. I cannot figure out where a bourbon would get some of those flavours. That is one weird-tasting bourbon.

Another example of hard to describe to me is this simple one: ask a few of your friends to give descriptors of the taste of any species of agave. I've found that new tequila (and mezcal) drinkers used to whisky descriptors find agave to be an odd and disorienting base flavour. Recently I gave @Nock some Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal, and he was completely fascinated by that (novel to him and) odd flavour which was the flavour of the agave. He had just not tasted it before. His tendency was to want to break it down to component parts, but...it was the just the flavour of...agave.

@Pierre_W, thanks for an interesting review. That's a mind-expanding challenge to do a review of a whisky which is difficult to find words to describe. An epistemological and descriptive conundrum. I have tasted a few whiskies which I found difficult to describe in words.

The reason for the difficulty can be from several different possibilities:

1)unusual, rarely encountered flavours, which don't taste very similar to anything else (unique flavours), 2)weak, vague, hard to perceive flavours (indistinct flavours), 3) ever-changing flavours, so that it is hard to get a fix on them (changing flavours), 4) rounded flavours, which do not have the usual edge that similar flavours possess (a rounded version of flavours which are usually sharp), or 5) very likely, a combination of # 1-4

I see a number of flavour descriptors in your review, yet you are not satisfied that they do a good job of getting to the essence. Life, and whisky, can be a bit elusive and mysterious at times.


The standard bottling from the only current Welsh distillery, Penderyn is interestingly only distilled once, through their unique Faraday still. I believe this whisky is around 5-6 years old, aged in ex-bourbon and then finished in Madeira casks.

Nose - Sweet, complex sugars, vanilla pods, icing sugar and banana, airfix glue, solventy, dominated by floral sweetness, rose water, geranium, hint of elderflower, mint humbugs. With water hints of citrus – lemon zest, lemon rind and a very slight hint of almonds in the background. Quite a nice complex nose, despite the solvents.

Taste - Sour and intense citrus arrival at the centre of the tongue, lemon juice and rind, pink grapefruit, sharp alcohol bite, then a short development, pine nuts and more sweetness towards the back of the mouth, with icing sugar, mint, vanilla.

Finish - Fairly short and quite bitter, sour lemon, floral lavender, juniper, wood sap and pine.

It has big flavours, intense and unique, although it is a little bit solventy, even after water tones down the youth and heat. Nevertheless, a very interesting whisky that’s worth a try, and I look forward to older offerings from the distillery.


This is very soft sweet whisky which can take some getting used to. It’s bottled young so I don’t know how they manage to make it so smooth. I drink it more like a liquor or aperitif than a malt. I do love this whisky, but maybe I am biased being Welsh.
Nose: Maple syrup, cocoa and molasses.
Taste: Nutty, sweet and unctuous. Madeira and marzipan flavours. Finish: Smooth and sweet with the maple syrup returning.

I really appreciate your review. It is very informative without being verbose. I agree heartily with your assessment of this very surprising whisky. I too, was impressed at the smoothness of this one when I first had a taste at a local festival. Immediately following I made a purchase and a week or so later when I opened that bottle and properly enjoyed my first dram, I realized what a little gem this one is. Thanks!

I am glad you like this whisky as much as I do, and your right there is something to be said for reviews that are to the point.


This is quite an unusual tasting whisky, but not in a good way for me at all I'm afraid, much as I wanted it to be, as a Welsh whisky. It's the first madeira finish I've tried, and maybe it's just this style I don't like. The nose is a real candy-ish one, and there's just an over-powering and sickly sweetness to the palate. This sweetness is met by some unexpected very bitter notes in the finish, and there's never anything approaching a nice balance between the bitter and the sweet, reminding me somewhat of burnt sugar or treacle.


Let's cut the chase. There is enough written a bout he distillery, history, location so I won't cover all of that again.

Lovely looking bottle, well package. The bottling details are stamped on the shoulder so easy to find.

Nose is rich, caramel, sticky dark fruits, butter and vanilla.

The palate gives cereal, honey, fruity dates and figs. Well rounded and fairly big. It gives a good full mouth feel and and a medium finish which is extremely pleasant.

Good work Penderyn.

A bit more info from my first brief review. The more I try this the more I like it. Penderyn is bottled at 46% and really is very well made. They use Buffalo Trace casks initially and then finish in Madeira casks. These are from DS Cooperage and are initially filled with red wine, then filled with Madeira wine for 3- 6 months. Even though this is a NAS the distillery say it is stored for 4-6 years. Honestly, you wouldn't know and if it said 10yr on the bottle you wouldn't disbelieve them.


This single malt is a real surprise as I hadn't expected such a burst of heat and flavours and then heat again. The initial explosion gradually mellows into a well illuminated summer fruit bowl touched with autumn sherry. I keep going back for a little bit more and it doesn't disappoint one jot.


Penderyn Madeira Finish was another stingy and fruity one (which aren't my 'cup of tea'). But after I saw some potential in it, I thought that maybe water would make it suitable for me. After adding a drop of water in this, it got a little better for my taste. Water took away the stinginess a bit.

So I felt a bit like I had tamed Moby Dick. I had turned a whisky I usually detest into a whisky that was okay. I'm not saying this was great but it gave me some sort of enlightenment. A whisky of this kind can be drinkable, nice.

By the way, did you know that parts of the movie Moby Dick were shot at the sea in front of Madeira Islands?

Nose: Sweet and much smoother than the taste. Starts with a stingy and spicy note though. But it fades into smooth oak and vanilla very quickly.

Taste: Very oaky with honey and vanilla. There's some spicy notes as well and the taste is not as smooth as the nose would imply.

Finish: Fruity with a lasting impression. Not the best in flavors but lasts enough to give you a feel of what it has. Sweet with hints of vanilla.

Balance: An OK whisky of it's kind. This coming from me, it has to be a good one for people who love these types.

Tried this a few weeks ago at a pub. I thought it was unbalanced but interesting. Ultimately, it tasted amateurish to me, like something someone might in their garage or barn or something. Still, I don't regret trying it.

To me, this bottling shows promise. I also like the fact that it was made by women in Wales and not men in Scotland. That piqued my interest. I would order another type of Penderyn in the future out of curiosity, but not this one twice. If it were offered to me at a party, I would gladly drink a glass of it, however.

I agree with you there and interesting fact about the manufacturing. Makes me want to try something else from their range too!


From the second i purchased this it had all the signs of quality. The glass bottle is long and slimline rather than the short and fat bottles we see nowadays and the bottle is housed in a cardboard box which has the bottle on display on two sides (so you can actually see the Whisky on the shelf even though it's boxed).

Proud the distillers are of the colour which by most Whisky standards is pale, yet because it's the natural colour as no caramel colouring has been added you appreciate this. Just to ensure you have the right info, this Single Malt Whisky is bottled at 46% and is NOT chill filtered! The Whisky is matured in bourbon barrels and then placed in Madeira Casks for a finishing period.

NOSE: Once i Initially popped the cork and poured my first "dram" i allowed it to settle for a good minute before sticking my nose in the glass to see what was waiting to say hello. There is quite a powerful scent at first which is quite sharp on the nose, almost like a dry white wine or mustard smell even - along with a malty note! The Aroma is clean on the whole with distinct smells of Vanilla, Custard and a faint smell of freshly mowed grass. I failed to detect any fruits until i added water... oh yes water really did open the nose up and allowed me to smell raisins although they were faint and required time for the water to work it's magic. For the most part Vanilla and Custard were the main aromas coming from this Whisky although the longer you allow the water to work the more of a honey smell comes through, also a hint of pine comes back every now and then!

PALATE: Again the aroma of Vanilla makes its way into your mouth. It's the first and consistent taste you find with this Whisky. This is a very sweet Whisky and Benefits from adding water to tone the sweetness and alcoholic kick down which in turn allows the other fruits such as raisins to shine through (albeit in a faint way) - although it must be said at no point does this Whisky burn your mouth.... it's very smooth.

FINISH: I was expecting another vanilla explosion once i swallowed a mouthful of Whisky yet to my surprise on the finish this is quite short and sweet, virtually no burn on the back of your tongue or throat yet you do get a nice warm glow down to your stomach, the vanilla flavor does linger in your mouth for a few minutes, i couldn't taste anything other than vanilla at this point.

Verdict: Very surprised and happy i got a bottle, The nose is full of different things yet the palate is more reserved with the vanilla taste really coming through which i liked. This is exceptionally well balanced although dry in the mouth with a shorter than expected finish. Maybe more of an after dinner Whisky?

One thing is for sure this is very smooth and i highly recommend you add a little water which really brings the Whisky into its own! There is no age on the bottle yet i gather it's around 6 years - if that's the case then this is going to be blow away stuff when it's 12 years old and beyond as for a 6 year old Whisky there's lots going on. One word hits you while you drink this "quality" ... the one note of caution is i don't think this is an anytime Whisky rather it seems more of an after dinner one.

Fully Recommended for you to try and treat your guests even people that don't normally drink Whisky may find this appealing!


Being partially descended from the ancient Britons myself, I looked on the opportunity to try Welsh whisky - the first produced since the nineteenth century - with relish. The people at Penderyn are aware that their provenance makes for perfect public relations material and they make the most of it: the packaging is eye-catching but elegant, repeatedly reminding you that this is aur Cymru, Welsh gold.

I'm yet to try their standard expression. The key to understanding this particular whisky is the madeira finish. There's no age statement, but since the distillery itself is less than eight years old this is a comparatively young whisky (particularly for a single malt). It's spent some time in a Buffalo Trace bourbon cask, and been finished in the madeira; its your means it's likely spent a proportionately fairly large amount of time in the madeira cask, which has affected it accordingly.

The nose is immediately and overwhelmingly fruity. At first, it's like a rich fruit salad: apple and fresh pineapple predominate, quickly joined by juicy papaya. This fresh fruitiness soon segues into more processed sugars. Bright banana custard bridges the two until the dominant characteristic has become toffee or fudge. This flowers into a scent that is simultaneously more mature and slightly zingy: treacle toffee and bubblegum, or a tantalising brandy butter.

The palate is less florid than the nose while remaining substantially similar. Sherbet sensations join with banana at first, before being replaced by a mellow butterscotch. If you go back to the nose, the butterscotch note is now obvious, as is the sweet smell of madeira - which has become clearer with the palate as pointer. The muted spice to the nose that at first might have been cinnamon is now more nutmeg, matching the taste, which develops into brown sugar at the second try.

The finish is sharp compared with the taste, but not surprising at 46% ABV. The sharpness masks a honeydew melon, but that too quickly vanishes into a grassy, acidic finish. I can't agree with the website publicity that describes a "long-lasting" finish; rather, it seems to vanish, leaving behind a curiously briny flavour, verging at times on that of cooked, sliced meat. Extremely curious.

The addition of water also seems to cast an unusual spell on this whisky. The nose is more richly banana-scented, together with a creamy white chocolate, but otherwise seems to have become almost unidimensional. The palate becomes grassier and brinier, but seems altogether more juvenile, like new spirit: sharper, but with a less developed flavour (which is curious, since we're diluting the alcohol). The change is a surprise, but I'll generously put it down to the vagaries of youth. You'll likely either love the sweet fruitiness of the Penderyn's madeira-finished expression or find it a little tediously blatant. I find it enjoyable, if rather rich; I think we can expect greater things from the Brecon Beacons in years to come.


I had a taste of Penderyn way back when it first came out, but didn't take notes and didn't really follow it up - until now. I've had this bottle of Madeira finish in the cupboard for almost a year, so I figure it's time to finally make good some notes...

I've heard the Penderyn distillery described variously as 'new', 'interesting', 'exciting' and 'totally bonkers', so expectations were... mixed. Fortunately this manages to simultaneously avoid them as well as live up to them - there's a distinctness here which turns out to be fairly drinkable.

Up the nose: Initial attractive - honey and grass and fizzy strawberry bootlaces, then some fudge and toffee. Splashed on the palms, very perfumey.

Body: The honey gets joined by spices and pepper, for a sweet-n-sour sauce kind of young zest. Alongside, a sticky sweetness like slightly ripe or stewed fruit - apples and peaches? I imagine a still that's been infused with tutti-frutti for a year.

Finish: Warm apple/guava juice, with the same grassy notes from the beginning. Fruity and drinkable, but with a strange ring to it.

I like this, it makes me think of countrysides and summer, pollen-filled hay fields with a warm, pink Sun making its way toward the horizon. Yes, this whiskey puts "pink" into my mind. Overall, a drinkable, tasty dram with a subtle attraction.


Nose: vinous and little sweet/candied. An odd smell that really reminded me of vanilla sponge cake, there's also a subtle raisin note and few other little fruity accents

Palate: sticky golden syrup and the sponge cake persists. A little spicy but, for me, a little medicinal as well. This is very sweet and for me, doesn't really come together

Body: fairly harsh, not a big fan to be honest

Finish: again harsh and alcoholic. The tasting notes on the bottle suggest tropical fruits but I'm finding it hard to get on board with that.

I'm this whisky would be to plenty of people's taste; sadly, it is not to mine. I'm interested to try some other madeira finish whiskies to see if I take to them any better, or if its just a concept that doesn't agree with my palate!


Super sweet malt. Is very true to its fortified wine origins. Very smooth and classy but a little too much for me. All fruit and sugar.

Nose - Summer fruit and golden syrup. Grandma's perfume. Fresh baked cake in the oven. Slightly Playdoh or almond. Palate - Rhubarb and peaches dominate. Whipped cream or condensed milk maybe and lots of sugar. Sherry. Can't find much else. Finish - Medium. The fruit continues with sherbut and fizz in the back of the mouth and into your nose.


Color: Golden straw

Nose: Sweet notes as one might expect from a Madeira cask finish. Quite a few Oaky notes, toffee, heather.

Palate: Honey, Vanilla, The oakiness is there no doubt. heather is also there on the tongue, a bit of cinnamon towards the end. It’s a young malt no doubt, and it’s not as smooth as some other Madeira finished malts that come to mind (The Balvenie 17 year for example).

Finish: Fruity notes on the finish, the vanilla is even stronger now, and hey, Melons big time. a very distinctive Melon taste is there. Ripe melon, the orange one we get here. Sweet and very distinctive. great finish. i like!


This malt is surprisingly good. i have not sampled a lot of Madeira finished malts, but the nose and finish are really nice. the spirit is indeed young, not rounded enough in my opinion but has a lot of potential. It’s Hard to tell how old this malt is, but i would guess maybe 5 or 6 years of age. Definitely worth sampling, if you like Madeira finished. (Josh, this one is for you!)

Well done Penderyn, well done Wales.

Recently had this one at a whisky dinner in Belgium and was pleasantly surprised. We had the Penderyn Peated after this one and... well, that one didn't work - at all. But this Madeira version is a pleasure.

@markjedi I agree fully. the peated and sherry are off... but the Madeira is quite nice. i should post my notes about those 2 ...

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