By all accounts, Penderyn is an interesting distillery. It’s the only Welsh single malt producer of international acclaim and their production process is different and allows for experimentation. While not as versatile as Loch Lomond, the different types of stills set Penderyn apart from most other distilleries in the UK.
The production process is described in some detail on Penderyn’s website, but almost never referenced outside of that. For example, I wouldn’t mind knowing which still was used to make a particular Penderyn release: their traditional pot stills that produce a new make at 67 percent, or the Faraday still spitting out new make at a whopping 92 percent?
It’s not the type of information shared in Penderyn’s press releases, neither is it mentioned on the product pages of their website. Instead, most whiskies have a rather elaborate Welsh back story, much like the Penderyn Rhiannon I’m reviewing today. They do mention cask types, but in the case of the Penderyn Rhiannon it is a rather baffling one.
What is Sherrywood Grand Cru? They are the casks used to finish the Rhiannon in, but what does it mean? Firstly, Grand Cru is a term originating from the French wine industry and has no place at all in the world of Spanish sherry. Secondly, Sherrywood is spelled incorrectly, but that might just be a simple mistake.
This needs some clearing up, so I asked what the term means. Turns out, it is Penderyn’s way of describing in very few words that the whisky was first matured in ex-Oloroso sherry casks and then finished in ex-Bordeaux red wine grand cru casks. Sherrywood is not a spelling mistake, but rather a brand name Penderyn uses.
In general it is a good thing to be concise and to the point, but sometimes it overcomplicates things and only leads to confusion, as is the case here. I can’t imagine anyone would’ve guessed the true meaning of Sherrywood Grand Cru correctly. Anyway, now you know.
Penderyn Rhiannon (46%, OB, Icons of Wales)
Nose: Soft notes of raspberries and strawberry liqueur, as well as some melted butter, cassis and candy canes. Hints of peanut skins and pastries. Needless to say it is very sweet. Taste: More sweetness on the arrival and pretty much a continuation of the nose. Plenty of berries, but also some caramel sweetness. The wood has also infused some spiciness. Finish: Lingering sweetness. Somewhat drying.
It’s a bit too one-dimensional too warrant a higher score, but the Penderyn Rhiannon is a satisfying whisky nonetheless. The wood does most of the talking. So if you like that kind of thing, you know what to do…