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Discover: Penderyn Distillery – a Welsh Whisky Masterclass

It’s been quite awhile since we’ve had the pleasure of hearing from The Domestic King on these pretty pink pages, but I’m delighted to say he’s finally back!!  So, without further ado, take it away Domestic King!

Birthday presents don’t come much better than this – a Masterclass at the Penderyn Distillery in South Wales! It was a wonderful surprise from the Domestic Prince and Princess who know my liking for a wee dram or two of whisky. My love affair with Penderyn Whisky began a few years ago – from the first sip of the straw-hued liquid I was hooked! So the Masterclass was a great way to find out what makes Welsh Whisky so special and distinctive.

It takes its name from its location, the tiny rural village of Penderyn sited just one mile inside the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park, about six miles north of Aberdare. It’s  easily accessible from the major cities and towns of the South Wales valleys via the Heads of Valleys Road. History buffs will be familiar with the village through Welsh folk hero Dic Penderyn, the legendary working-class martyr involved in the Merthyr Rising of 1831, who lived in the village. He was wrongfully executed for a stabbing he did not commit, his name forever associated with the Red Flag of social justice.

Established in 1999 by the Welsh Whisky Company, the Distillery released its first single malt on St David’s Day 2004, the start of a great Welsh industry success story. The secrets of “the smoothest wysgi on Earth” are revealed in the Masterclass in the Visitor Centre, housed under the same roof as the Distillery. Without a doubt, a ‘must-do’ experience for anyone wishing to know and understand more about a truly unique series of whiskies.

The Masterclass

Prepare for two and half absorbing hours as you embark on a fascinating journey of enjoyment and discovery. Our presenter was Euan, an amiable Scot of all people, a graduate biologist, and extremely knowledgeable with great communication skills. In the comfort of a smart, carefully prepared studio, we learned about the history of distillation in Wales, the characteristics of malt whisky compared with other types of whisky, and what distinguished malt from blended whiskies. This background information helped us to understand better the malt whisky production process, and specifically, the uniqueness of the Welsh whisky process. This part of the Masterclass unlocked the secrets of Penderyn’s superior quality! “Uniqueness” really does define Penderyn’s distillation process.

The malting, milling, mashing and fermentation process to produce the barley wash is undertaken for the Distillery by the famous Brains Brewery in Cardiff. This 8% ABV wash (Alcohol By Volume) is then distilled at Penderyn in a unique copper still that produces alcohol spirit called ‘newmake spirit’ measuring a huge 92% ABV. This is much higher than the Scottish distilleries where the average spirit is 65% ABV. The great advantage of the 92% spirit is it matures into saleable whisky at a much quicker rate when transferred to wooden casks. Its unique smoothness is also attributed to this process. At this maturation stage, very pure mountain water from the Brecon Beacons is added to the ‘newmake spirit’ pumped directly from a well beneath the Distillery. The whiskies acquire their unique flavours and colour from maturing in used Bourbon and Madeira barrels to produce Penderyn Madeira and Penderyn Sherrywood whiskies, and in used smoky Scottish Islay whisky casks to produce the Peated Penderyn.

Almost uniquely, Penderyn bottles its whisky on site, reducing its strength to 46% ABV by adding pure mountain water from its well beneath the Distillery. Now that must be unique! And as a proud Welshman, I am convinced it enhances the smoothness of this delicate straw-hued liquid gold!

The climax of the Masterclass was the tasting. Although an enthusiastic learner who enjoyed the whole of Euan’s presentation, it was the expectation of the tasting that excited my emotions! Euan quickly exploded the myth that it is a cardinal sin to add water to malt whisky. His advice was, it should be the tiniest amount, “a tear drop”! The best way to achieve this, he said, is to fill a whisky glass with water, empty it, and then add a measure of single malt. The effect is to release myriad aromas (a smell detection challenge!) as well as impacting on the flavour and drinking sensation. Great advice to someone who not a few times has ‘drowned’ the whisky with an equal measure of water, totally destroying the drinking experience! My Penderyn training will certainly ensure the tasting ‘protocol’ becomes a whisky-drinking ritual.

Euan concluded the Tasting Session by emphasising Penderyn is a small distillery producing premium quality whisky. The secret of achieving consistently excellent whisky, he informed us, lies in the Unique Penderyn Five! Go on, indulge yourself, or a loved one, and take a trip to Penderyn to solve the UPF!

It is no accident that the brand includes a gold flash melded onto each bottle above which are the letters ‘AC’, the abbreviation for ‘Aur Cymru’ – Welsh Gold, a gold liquid synonymous with the much sought after rare and precious Welsh gold.

In addition to the award winning Madeira whisky (a Gold Medal at the International Whisky Competition 2012) and the wonderful Sherrywood and Peated whiskies, the Distillery produces, from time to time, limited edition whiskies usually around 60% ABV cask strength. More recently, the Company has extended its spirit range to include a gin, a vodka and Merlyn Cream Liqueur. The Brecon Gin is on my buying list for the Domestic Prince. The Merlyn, which is delicious, will probably find its way into someone’s Christmas stocking!

The Masterclass was, in every respect, a wonderful experience! The Distillery and its staff provided a warm, friendly welcome, together with great hospitality, and sent us on our way with a generous gift of three miniature whiskies in a tasting set – Madeira, Sherrywood and Peated to savour at leisure. Like the whisky itself, the Masterclass has a wonderfully long and lingering finish!

Wow!  Sounds like The Domestic King had a fabulous day and I’m thrilled he enjoyed it so much!  If you’re not a Welshie and fancy participating in The Masterclass and are wondering where to stay, please drop me an email and I can recommend some wonderful places.  You could combine it with a walk in the beautiful Brecon Beacons.  And if this post has got you yearning to try a drop (or two!) of Penderyn whisky, then it can be purchased from their website, in many Waitrose stores, my spiritual home (no pun intended!) Harrods, or check their website out for worldwide distributors.

Are any of you whisky lovers?  And have you tried Penderyn’s offerings?

With much love
The Domestic Princess
xoxo

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Today’s post is dedicated to The Domestic King.  One of the hardest things about living in India is being away from friends and family, but for me, being away from The Domestic King was, and still is, the hardest wrench I’ve ever felt.  I quite simply adore him.  As I said in my introduction to his post on Parky’s Pub, if you were to have a wish list of what qualities a Papa would have, the Domestic King fits the bill to a tee.  Nothing is ever too much trouble, be it dashing up to London to help out our tenants in the Domestic abode, to coming out and helping us get settled in India, earning him the nickname “The Foreman!”  His generosity, both financially and emotionally knows no bounds.  The support he has given to us over the years leaves me speechless sometimes; I’m not sure what I did to deserve such an amazing Papa!  But the one thing I do know – I am truly and utterly grateful he is mine!!

So, to the Domestic King, who I know takes the time to read each and every post:  I love you with all my heart, you are one of the most important people in my life and I don’t know what I’d do without you.  Your unconditional love has seen me through many a tough time and for that I thank you.  You are quite simply THE best Papa a girl could ever wish for!

Just like Mothering Sunday, Father’s Day is all about celebrating and honouring the Fathers or paternal bonds we have in our lives, and typically this is done through a card and / or a gift.  I love buying presents for other people; taking the time to really think what they would like, and what would give them pleasure.  But buying a pressie for the Domestic King fills me with extra joy, as it gives me the opportunity to really show him how grateful we are for his love and support.  This year, we bought him a Kindle, as I suspected that when he was reading his iPad at night and getting drowsy, he was probably knocking himself out when he dropped it on himself!

You don’t necessarily have to buy a present to show you’re thinking of your Dad, just a simple ‘phone call saying how much you love and appreciate him would be just as lovely!  Or, how about writing him a letter telling him how important he is in your life?  And to those readers whose father is no longer in your life, find a way to celebrate his life, and to remember the good times you spent together.

If you are looking to buy your Dad a gift, I’m hoping today’s post will help you find the perfect present for him for Father’s Day, which this year is on Sunday 17th June.

Happy shopping!

  1. Ruinart Blanc de Blanc Champagne, £59.99 from Selfridges
  2. “Dad” pork pie, £6.50 from Fortnum & Mason
  3. Mixed wine case, £115 from Selfridges
  4. Breakfast box, £28 from Dukeshill
  5. Penderyn Welsh Single Malt Whisky, £28.57 from Ocado
  6. I love you dad biscuit card, £9 from Biscuiteers
  7. Deli Garage, £75 from Harvey Nichols
  8. Trio of teas, £15 from Choi Time
  9. For My Dad Pocket Selection of chocolates, £8 from Hotel Chocolat
  10. Rococo chocolate jersey royals & mint, £9.50 from John Lewis
  11. Ultimate gin & tonic kit, £35.50 from Whisk Hampers

  1. Submarine tea strainer, £8.95 from Harvey Nichols
  2. BBQ tool set, £29.75 from Notonthehighstreet.com
  3. Keep Calm And Carry On picture, £70 from Heals
  4. Daddy Cool mug, £9.99 from big tomato company
  5. Screwpull LM200 corkscrew, £48.97 from Wineware
  6. Bobble water bottle, £10 from John Lewis (available in various colours)
  7. Lavender crate and lavender jelly, £42 from The Gluttonous Gardener
  8. Allotinabox super seed box, £10.99 from Love Your Larder
  9. Daddy Rules apron, £22.50 from Notonthehighstreet.com
  10. Box Appetit lunch box, £14.99 from Strawberry Fool

  1. James Bond complete DVD collection, £58.95 from Amazon.co.uk
  2. Yellowstone blu-ray DVD, £7.47 from Amazon.co.uk
  3. Not Dead Yet by Peter James, £8.54 from Amazon.co.uk
  4. Ferrari:  25 years of calendar images, £50.70 from Amazon.co.uk
  5. War Horse DVD, £11.97 from Amazon.co.uk
  6. John Bishop Live Sunshine Tour, £6.49 from Amazon.co.uk
  7. 1000 Places to See Before You Die, £10.09 from Amazon.co.uk
  8. Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace, £7.79 from Amazon.co.uk
  9. Ginger Pig Meat Book, £16.30 from Amazon.co.uk
  10. Steve Jobs Biography, £13.50 from Amazon.co.uk

  1. Fitbit Ultra pedometer, £78.49 from Amazon.co.uk
  2. Marware cover for the Kindle, £29.99 from Amazon.co.uk (available in various colours)
  3. Tweety rechargeable speaker, £49 from The Gift Library (available in various colours)
  4. Sennheiser/Adidas sports headphones, £49.95 from John Lewis
  5. InCase neoprene laptop case, £35 from John Lewis
  6. iPad, from £329 from Apple
  7. Kindle ereader, from £89 from Amazon.co.uk
  8. Canon IXUS 220 camera, £127 from Amazon.co.uk
  9. Lifeproof for iPhone, £59.99 from Firebox

  1. Personalised sterling silver key ring, £45 from Merci Maman
  2. Paul Costelloe dot tie, £45 from John Lewis
  3. Bone collar stiffeners, £6.50 from The Gift Atelier
  4. Jost medium messenger bag, £179 from Selfridges
  5. Trio of silk cuff knots, £15 from Thomas Pink 
  6. 7 pairs of contrast cotton socks, £12 from Marks & Spencer
  7. Tissot Chronograph black leather strap watch, £270 from John Lewis
  8. Tom Ford Charles aviator sunglasses, £129.99 from Amazon.co.uk
  9. Mulberry travel adapter and case, £150 from Harrods
  10. Travel watch roll, £130 from The Gift Library 
  11. Just Sheepskin Donmar slippers, £45 from John Lewis

  1. Brau M90 mobile shaver, £14.95 from John Lewis
  2. Dermalogica Post-Shave Balm, £19.35 from Skincare in a box
  3. Aromatherapy Associates De-stress kit, £45 from Aromatherapy Associates
  4. Wild & Wolf Qwerty washbag, £17.50 (half-price at the mo!) from Heals
  5. Manicure set, £24.50 from Notonthehighstreet.com
  6. Slendertone Premium Ab Toner for men, £150 from Harrods
  7. Kiehls shaving cream, £15 from Space.NK
  8. Strivectin men’s wrinkle fighting set, £67 from Harvey Nichols 
  9. Clinique Liquid Face Wash, £14.50 from Mankind.co.uk
  10. Tom Ford aftershave, £60 from Selfridges

  1. Dolphin & Whale watching for two, £69 from The Gift Experience
  2. Half-day photography course, £75 from Lastminute.com
  3. Two tickets to see Sweeney Todd, from £40 from See Tickets
  4. A photoshoot at Julia Boggio studios, £245 that includes £100 towards any purchases from Julia Boggio
  5. Aston Martin vs Audi R8 driving experience, £145 from Virgin Experience Days
  6. Two hour cooking lesson, £72 from L’Atelier des Chefs
  7. Vineyard tour for two, £24 from The Gift Experience
  8. Mr & Mrs Smith gift voucher, starting from £50 from Mr & Mrs Smith 

Have you seen anything you like in this guide for your Dad?  Are you already organised for Father’s Day?  Do you have a strong bond with your Dad?  Please share, I’d love to hear from you.

With much love, especially to The Domestic King!

The Domestic Princess

xoxo

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