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Despite being called the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, quite a few of their bottlings come from distilleries outside of Scotland (they have even bottled bourbons and armagnacs). This is one of them, from Penderyn in Wales (and the first Penderyn I've ever tried, I believe). This single malt was distilled on Oct 26 2006 and matured for five years in a first fill ex-bourbon barrel (No. 600 - and likely from either Buffalo Trace or Evan Williams, whose ancestors were Welsh), yielding 229 bottles.
Penderyn seems to be growing in stature and respect as their whiskies keep winning awards. Wales has a very long history of whisky distillation; apparently they've been making "gwirod" since the 4th century. I wonder if more distilleries will pop up there?
The colour is a very light honey. The nose is nutty with almonds and chestnuts, quite spirity (slightly rubbery and medicinal), fresh and invigorating. A hint of chocolate and candy floss. With a little time in the glass, red liquorice and cinnamon sticks! Water ups the barley sugar and adds a certain crispness.
The palate is quite unique: very herbal (minty), hot in the mouth, some wood there but not very much - not oak per se but more like pine. Vanilla and tropical fruits (from the bourbon barrels). Scrumptious in a way that Scottish single malts do not tend to be - as I said, quite unique. Water tames the heat, bringing forward more herbs and spices.
The finish is very long but gentle - quite sweet with more pine and berries coming up later (you get a longer finish with water). I noticed a lot of my writing here reflects the extensive "creative" notes on the bottle, so they must be accurate (though their note of "ambulance break pedal" on the nose is totally ridiculous! It is clearly the gas pedal. Hey-yo!) If any idiot tells you that a whisky always gets better the longer it ages, throw this one in their face - this is a young, vibrant, exciting single malt that will not disappoint you. I will definitely be trying some official Penderyn bottlings very soon. Note that Jim Murray rates this a whopping 96 - the highest score for any SMWS bottling in his 2013 Bible.