Hey Fred-There is a New Single Malt on the Block [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Hey Fred-There is a New Single Malt on the Block

03-02-2004, 01:52 AM
Taken from http://www.sundayherald.com/40308

Welsh launch single malt to rival Scotch

Wales firmly on the ‘wisgi’ trail as St David’s Day sees the arrival of a whisky predicted to become one of world’s finest
By Elizabeth Mistry

It has the dark, golden colour of the best malt and the smooth taste that seems to symbolise the best of Scotland. The trouble is … this new single malt which will launch tomorrow isn’t Scottish at all. It’s Welsh.
The Gwalia distillery, which also produces gin, vodka and a cream liqueur, has chosen St David’s Day to launch the Penderyn, a single malt that the company says is the first whisky to be distilled in the country for more than 100 years.

Named after the village on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park where the firm is based, the whisky may be Welsh but there is a strong Scots flavour to the spirit, produced from a 2500-litre copper pot still custom built by McMillan of Prestonpans. More than 1000 oak barrels supplied by Douglas Taylor of Craigellachie hold the maturing spirit in a dark, damp and sweet-smelling bonded warehouse next to the stillroom.

Industry “nose” Jim Swan, who also acts as a consultant to the company, says the wisgi will rank alongside the best Scotland has to offer when it goes on sale tomorrow.

“When fully matured it’s likely to become one of the best single malts on the market – certainly in the top 20 single malts worldwide. I think it will surprise a lot of people.”

The £3 million venture is the brainchild of director Brian Morgan, who oversees the operation from an eyrie above the stillroom and his office at Cardiff University, where, for the last seven years, he has run its Small Business Unit.

“What we’re doing is not new. It’s the way we are doing it,” said Morgan, who says he is partial to the odd deferyn, or dram, of Lagavulin. “There was a tradition of whisky- making in Wales in the 200 years before 1900, but the rise of the temperance movement put an end to it at the close of the 19th century.

“ The founding fathers of the American bourbon industry, Jack Daniel and Evan Williams, came from Wales. We are using Jack Daniel’s and Evan Williams casks to mature the final product, which I think is a nice way of bringing the past full circle”

One of Morgan’s many challenges was winning over suppliers like Douglas Taylor, whose Speyside Cooperage provides barrels to some of the whisky industry’s biggest names.

“When they first came to me I thought it was a wind-up,” Taylor told the Sunday Herald.

“But then I went to see what was going on I realised that they were serious. Five years ago I would have said you can only make whisky in Scotland but they are proving that you can do it elsewhere. What I am waiting for now is the first Celtic whisky, a blend of Scotch, Irish and Welsh. It’s just a matter of who comes up with it first.”

Morgan says that the advice from “our Scottish friends” has been invaluable to the project, which was partly funded by loans, private investment – most of the dozen or so staff have a stake – and a £600,000 grant from the European Union.

Penderyn, like other villages in the surrounding valleys, has suffered greatly in recent years from the closure of the pits and the steel industry.

“Our research showed that there is room in the market for a whisky such as this. We are investing in a top-quality product that will put Wales on the map. We also hope that further down the line we will be looking to take on more staff. Whisky isn’t a huge employer but we plan to double capacity and open a visitor centre.”

If he’s nervous about taking on the established names of the whisky world, he’s not showing it. Nor does he seem overly concerned by critics such as veteran commentator Patience Gould, editor of Drinks International magazine, who is yet to be convinced that it’s a viable proposition. “Welsh whisky? What’s the point? There’s no provenance.”

But Simon Williamson of the Scotch Whisky Association feels there is room for a new product. “Scotch Whisky stands on its own merits. We sell four times more than our nearest competitors and anything that opens up new markets is good for the industry.”

And the makers of Penderyn certainly plan to seek out new markets. Operations director Edwina Clark said: “ We’re not going to dent the £2 billion market north of the Border but with 1.8 million people in the US claiming Welsh heritage and several thousand in Patagonia, I think we have our own market.”

On the eve of the launch, which will be attended by Prince Charles, there is much excitement in Penderyn, where many of the locals have found themselves roped in to help after heavy snow last week caused problems for the company’s distribution system, leaving the company facing the question of how to transport bottles to London for a dinner at the Savoy tomorrow night.

Penderyn has no shops , so anyone wanting to try the whisky will need to call in at the bar of the local Ty Newyddth Hotel, which currently offers customers Glenmorangie.

In Cardiff, at the Pride of Wales pub, the manager isn’t sure whether they’ll be offering it to punters. But down the road at the Gateway, 19-year-old Spud Phipps-Harkus says he would consider swapping his normal tipple of Jack Daniel’s and Red Bull to try it. “Welsh whisky? Yeah sure, Welsh is great isn’t it?”

Willie Gunn
03-02-2004, 04:52 AM
What is it with these people first the Irish now the Welsh, it will take a while to realise only the Scots make the real thing.

03-02-2004, 12:41 PM
Here in Oregon ... we also have a distillery; haven't tasted the single malt therefrom ... but 'maybe' I'll get a bottle for the Charity Spey Casting Clinic coming up in a couple of weeks.