Penderyn is a tiny Welsh distillery that tends to be quite divisive. This particular expression is no exception. It’s a young malt that’s spent time in both bourbon casks as well as Islay casks that previously housed peated whisky. Online scores and opinions are all over the place, and that’s confusing for people like me who often base their buys on online reviews. But now that I’ve had it for myself, I get why that’s the case. This stuff is… unique.
Nose: Right away you know you’re not in Scotch territory. Clean, woody, and slightly astringent. Oak, apple cider, apple vinegar, green mango, lime juice, sweet pickles, pine resin, aloe, and gentle heather. Unlike any nose I’ve ever experienced.
Palate: A very gentle arrival with a beautifully silky, airy mouthfeel. Lime zest, green mango, apple vinegar, apple cider, peat, and vanilla.
Finish: Medium in length. Oak and peat are one here. Butterscotch, grain, big anise, butter, barley, limestone, green mango, lime zest, cedar wood, and vanilla. A damp. mossy pine forest? Sure, why not?
Thoughts: Weird. Different from anything I’ve tried before. Young and spirity but without a hint of harshness. Clean and acerbic like a hospital while woody, sappy, and pine-fresh like a forest, with a smooth, silky mouthfeel. Separately these sound good, but they culminate in a profile that’s certainly off-putting, at least initially. Using Islay casks means the smoky, peaty flavours are intrinsically tied-in with the woody notes. That’s worked for this expression, as it’s imparted an interesting forest-y character. It’s clear, smooth, and easy to sip, but I can’t say my senses categorize this as whisky, despite my knowledge to the contrary. More as a clean, silky, smoky, woody, uh, forest liqueur? ...or something, I don’t know. So yeah, it’s rather weird, but I like it. Not a whisky for whisky lovers, and not for everyone, but I think it fills a cool niche. At the very least I guarantee this is something new for you.
Many thanks for an insightful review and an honest assessment of this Penderyn expression, @hunggar. I have not tried this particular one but I have a bottle of their 'flagship' expression, the Madeira wine cask finish, at home and hope to put up tasting notes within a month or so. I agree with your view that this is unique and young without being too spirity (this applies also to the Madeira cask version). Not something that I would want to make a permanent fixture of my cabinet but definitely worth trying once.
Interesting. Sounds like one you have to taste and smell for yourself, probably before you buy.
I like coniferous eaux de vie and liqueurs, like Clear Creek's Douglas Fir Eau de Vie and some of the Austrian or German Pine liqueurs. It is hard for me, though, to imagine any of them with sweet pickles and apple cider vinegar in them.