Penderyn: Sherrywood or Peated?

Penderyn Sherrywood vs Peated

Just before I went away for Christmas two very cute Welsh-looking bottles landed on my desk. Unfortunately none of my usual co-tasters was available at the time and then I got into the mad spin of all those horribly ordinary and boring yet necessary activities such as packing, shopping, wrapping, cooking and cleaning. Trying not to die in the midst was my priority at the time.

The Welsh plot was lost but not forgotten. And so it happened that upon my return two expressions of Penderyn made up the last official Edinburgh Whisky Blog’s tasting in 2009 and now are the first review of 2010. Why not?

Penderyn is the only Welsh whisky distillery and if you are not familiar with it, you can check out the distillery website (good resource) and our early review of Penderyn Madeira Finish May 07.

Now just to make it clear, we are keeping a very close eye on Penderyn here at the EWB Towers. We not only liked the one we had in February 2009 but also we are well impressed with the packaging, the marketing effort that got Welsh whisky onto supermarket shelves in Scotland, we like the YouTube channel and, last but not least, their crazy distillation process known as “plumbers wet dream”.

It’s no secret that during the football World Cup in South Africa this year we are planning a series of duels between whiskies from different countries as part of our Whisky World Cup idea. This is the only World Cup Scotland can actually win in our lifetimes and we are here to make sure nothing stands in the way… therefore, in order to thin the ranks down in the Valleys, we arranged this cheeky wee competition between the two brothers. Let one of them bite the dust and never be drunk again and the other one… let him thrive for now on the false sense of victory, unaware that in Scottish glens we stand shoulder to shoulder and consolidate before the Big Tournament. Bwahahaha! Evil plan!


Penderyn Sherrywood
Ex-bourbon, Oloroso sherry finish
£33.95 from them

Nose: Softness and lightness at first, quite surprising. Then old dusty furniture aroma hit us, transforming with water into port-like fruitiness and sweetness, finally revealing sponge cake, honey, mint and citrus. Beautifully combined robustness and sweetness of red oak with lightness and freshness of ex-bourbon cask, all underpinned by the signature Penderyn lemon and jelly beans. Hats off.

Palate: What a cracker! Beautifully soft chocolaty complexity with heaps of nutty bitterness and rich fruity overtones. Oloroso sherry oak influence is prominent but somewhat understated and, well… just yummy.

Finish: Artificial sweetness, candy and marzipan. Lingers.

Overall: Love it! Rich and sweet but still bright and soft. What’s more it shows plenty of character and it didn’t lose too much of the house style in the maturation. Great winter warmer, it certainly made us happy. Big thumbs up for the price tag too.

Person: Shane Williams. Light on his feet with a killer finish.


Penderyn Peated
Ex-bourbon, 2nd fill ex-Scotch

£35.95 from them

Nose: Slightly soapy and mighty minty, quite sour and grassy with those quite out-of-place peaty tones… such was our first impression. With water it definitely sparked up and started growing on us with cleaner smoke, citrus and Haribo bears kind of sweetness dominating finally.

Palate: Really quite savoury and peaty here. Heaps of crushed pepper. Not bad at all.

Finish: Earthy and peppery balance but all too quiet and too short.

Overall: We weren’t impressed, you can tell. It is a grower but it just doesn’t grow fast enough. At times it was a bit like eating spoonfuls of smoky peppercorns and that’s just not our cup of tea. But hey, someone had to lose here!


And the winner is… Penderyn Sherrywood. It has practically crushed the opponent, it’s so much better. Another example of how using peated malt is inclined to go wrong for a distillery anywhere outside the Scottish islands. And yet another proof that when it comes to un-peated whisky, Scottish distillate has no longer monopoly for top quality, not even in Britain.

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