Penderyn Dragon Range – Legend 41%

While not called Legend, a few of us have tried Penderyn’s Madeira finish over the years. It proved to us that this Welsh distillery has got the balance right – affordable, enjoyable with just enough interesting going on to make us happy to repeat! My most recent revisit was at the close of 2020 with my Advent Calendar malty marathon.

The Madeira finish is a core Penderyn expression and a bottle sitting in Mumbai was intended to anchor an exploration with our desi tasting companions. Which we will get to… one of these months or years…

However in the interim, “Legend” – also a Madeira finish – beckoned as part of the Dragon range tasting set.

Penderyn Legend 41%

  • Nose – Apples, touch of citrus, subtle, vanilla cream, as it warmed up a hint of rum raisins and cream
  • Palate – Some spice, a bit of woodiness, later we wondered – was that a touch of grapefruit? It also had that bitter quality
  • Finish – Spicy at the back – black peppers then ginger

After the delightful Myth which had fruit in abundance in the nose and considerable substance on the palate with a satisfying finish, the Legend came across as… dare I say it… a wee bit flat?

We speculated perhaps we should have started with the Legend – with fresh palates, perhaps this would have made a better ‘appetizer’ before moving on to the bourbon. A bit counter-intuitive but may have resulted in a more harmonious progression.

We set it aside and carried on with the Peaty Celt… then returned to revisit. No major transformation however did detect some red currents, some spice and bitterness.

And what do the folks at Penderyn have to say?

Legend is a Madeira-finish single malt whisky, bottled at 41% abv. (43% in the USA)

  • Nose: Aromas of fresh apples and citrus fruits intermingle with cream fudge and sultana raisins to create a complex yet fresh, clean and well-balanced whisky.
  • Palate: Incredibly smooth and both fresh and rich dried fruits abound. Delicate and sweet on the palate with just a hint of bitterness to remain refreshing.
  • Finish: A long aftertaste of Madeira cake and sultanas.

Would we agree? Not entirely… Could it be my opening and transferring into wee sample bottles a month+ before and distributing dampened the character? Some whiskies are particularly susceptible to losing their “oomph!” with oxidation. Or could it be the recipe for Legend differs from their core Madeira finish?

Either way, we did not find the complexity or the rich dried fruits. Pity…

Here is the convoluted tale of how we came to taste the Penderyn Dragon range:

What about our earlier Penderyn explorations?

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Vita Dulcis 17 – Wales Penderyn Madeira 46%

Ah… Penderyn from Wales… what fun to have a chance to revisit! This Madeira finish is part of their core range – now labelled as “gold“. It has a happy place in our whisky tasting history and one that is a regular ‘stand by’ for sociable evenings.

Wales – Penderyn Madeira Finish 46%

  • Nose – Delicious! Vanilla creme, caramel, resin and raisins, herbal – particularly basil yet hints of mint too, chased by rich toffee
  • Palate – Also yum! Fruit – think pineapple, marmalade on toast with custard, sprinkled with cinnamon, cloves and other sweet spices
  • Finish – Spices, nice ginger tail

As I sipped it, I couldn’t help but smile. Both as I enjoyed the whisky and as I had a flashback to most enjoyable exchanges with Aista Jukneviciute at the Nurnberg “The Village” whisky festival (end Feb/early Mar 2020) where she launched a special expression just for Germany!

Penderyn is a predominantly female distillation team, led by Laura Davies, Distillery Manager, Penderyn Distillery (Wales) – a refreshing contrast to a mostly male industry.

What do they have to say about their Madeira?

This whisky is the original Penderyn ‘house style’, aged in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in ex-Madeira wine casks to bring out its full gold character. It is bottled at 46% abv.

TASTING NOTES
  • Nose: A classic freshness with aromas of cream toffee, rich fruit and raisins.
  • Palate: Crisp and finely rounded, with the sweetness to balance an appetising dryness.
  • Finish: Notes of tropical fruit, raisins and vanilla persist.
  • Balance: Oaky vanilla tones/dry sweetness

As for my other encounters with the distillery? They are quite a few years earlier:

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Minis – Inchmurrin Madeira Finish 46%

My host and miniature sipping cohort unabashedly admitted this particular bottle was picked up purely because of the distillery name – Loch Lomond – and its association with a fictitious whisky that would regularly make its appearance in Tintin comics as a favoured drink of Captain Haddock!

Regardless of inspiration, it was good to have an opportunity to sample an Inchmurrin with Madeira finish!

Loch Lomond actually produces whiskies under a range of names – Craiglodge, Croftengea, Inchfad, Inchmoan, Old Rhosdhu – of which Inchmurrin is only one and known for only containing whisky from the pot stills with rectifying heads.

Loch Lomond is also a relatively newer distillery – 1st opened in 1966 – with the ability to produce both malt and grain whisky plus use three different types of stills – two traditional pot stills, four ‘Lomond’ stills and one column still.

And what did we find?

Inchmurrin Madeira Finish 40%

  • Nose – Instant iodine when freshly opened that quickly disappeared to reveal dry cherry wood, cranberries and sour red cherries, became increasingly sour but not in a bad way – more tart than anything else
  • Palate – Surprisingly soft light cherries, sharper if you took a big swig, yet overall fruity
  • Finish – Light sweet spice

Overall we decided this is a ‘day drink’, not complex, not challenging, yet it was also edging on being refined and feminine.

We thought perhaps it may be a whisky to enjoy in a hot climate when in the mood for something veering towards sour rather than saccharine sweet. The light cherry quality was actually quite appealing in its own way.

In this case, the underlying light whisky did get a nice ‘boost’ from being finished in fortified Madeira wine cask…

What do the folks over at Loch Lomond have to say?

  • Nose – Fresh citrus orange bursts on the nose giving way to almond marzipan comes through with nutmeg.
  • Palate – Velvet smooth and welcoming on the tongue. Fruity character of peach and fig is overlaid with rich butterscotch and delicate walnut.
  • Finish – Long finish, dry grape tannins and oak, lingering nuttiness.

What did we try in our miniatures session?

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Minis – Glenglassaugh Evolution + Torfa, Inchmurrin

After a few months hiatus, our miniatures sessions are back!

This time we decided to explore a revived discontinued distillery (Glenglassaugh) and a whisky my cohort couldn’t resist… having grown up with Tintin tales of Loch Lomond whisky (Inchmurrin)…

For my part, I was keen to revisit a freshly opened bottle of the Torfa, having had a rather negative 1st experience a few years ago at Quaich in Singapore. And was equally curious what else Glenglassaugh had to offer. As for Inchmurrin? I had no pre-conceived notions… however found our tryst with Pendryn’s Madeira sufficiently interesting to be curious to compare.

The minis were followed by Royal Brackla 16 year 40%… just because it was already open and I hadn’t tried it yet… a most acceptable justification! Turned out to be a great food accompaniment.

Other miniatures sessions:

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Teeling Single Malt 46% (Bottled 10/2014)

Our May 2015 tasting session included three distinctly different whiskies from Scotland (Deanston), USA (Hudson) and this one from Ireland. As usual, we sampled it blind to reduce any influence of a particular brand or previous experience.
Teeling (Whisky Lady)

Teeling (Whisky Lady)

Teeling 46% Bottled 10/2014
  • Colour – Deep amber
  • Nose – Oh happiness and joy! Deep, strong character, while the first whiff has tar and leather, it soon mellows into a delicious spicy honey, a tart hint of lime, warm vanilla… after the first sip, strong cinnamon, plums, yum!!
  • Taste – Robust with a chewy depth, initially summer strawberries which later deepened into plums, envelops you with a delectable cocoa warmth, sooooo smooth and well balanced
  • Finish – Nice chewy finish that lingers
  • Water – Doesn’t overly dilute the character, however doesn’t reveal anything new either… can be added if you want to extend your sipping slightly…
  • Overall experience – An imminently SOCIABLE whisky.

It was uncanny how after just a few sips, the chatter rose, sparked animated banter with amusing faffery. As a practice, we never re-pour during our initial tasting, however at first one, then another and another reached for the bottle to have just a wee bit more…

In a way, it was hard to pinpoint down precisely why it is such a likeable whisky. It isn’t sweet, isn’t spicey or smoky. It’s simply a most enjoyable dram with a decided “feel good factor.” It also re-inforced our overall positive take on Irish whiskies.
After airing – still yum however wouldn’t pair with food. Instead, this is a whisky to kick back and enjoy with a bunch of mates. Don’t expect wonders but do expect to have a rollicking good time! One I would consider adding to my cabinet if the opportunity arises…
Teeling (Whisky Lady)

Teeling (Whisky Lady)

More about the whisky:
  • Teeling’s single malt contains whiskies aged for up to 23 years
  • Matured in a range of wine casks: sherry, port, Madeira, white Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Small batch production

May whiskies snapshot:

What others are saying:

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Tyrconnell 10 year Madeira Cask 46%

And we are off to the races!

Tyrconnell was once the Cooley (now Kilbeggan) distillery‘s flagship whisky. Once an independent Irish distillery, the label celebrates the Wyatt family champion ‘Tyrconnell’ racehorse – best known for winning in 1876 at odds of 100 to 1 the Irish “The National Produce Stakes.”

In the last few years I’ve started to explore more Irish whiskies… and am quite impressed with the results of the ‘single pot still’ method that  produces the remarkable Redbreast and Yellow Spot.

The Tyrconnell 10 year Madeira Cask won the Irish Whiskey of the Year in Jim Murray`s Whisky Bible 2008.

So… I was both intrigued and delighted when a friend from the UK included this in my ‘Irish whiskies’ shipment on her trip to India last year.

I first shared it with our tasting team on 14 June 2014 together with Ledaig Island and Talisker Dark Storm.

Tyrconnell 10 year Madiera (Whisky Lady)

Tyrconnell 10 year Madeira (Whisky Lady)

And what did we find?

Tyrconnell 10 year Madeira Cask 46%

  • Colour – Light gold
  • Nose – Tamarind, fruit and flowers, copper, sour dough, chikoo, a sense of being a bit ‘young’
  • Taste – An initial sharp nip then spice, coconut, leather, pronounced exceedingly ‘nice’
  • Finish – Alas nothing spectacular… a hint of light leather and mild fruit, while it doesn’t dash off instantly, it does not have the long linger some reviewers boast!
  • Add water? – Don’t… does nothing to improve and with such a light whisky not needed at all

In our blind tasting session, we speculated that while clearly young, it showed ‘nice’ promise.

In my recent revisit, it re-inforced the impression of a light pleasant whiskey. The mood is that of a gentle cantor in a ladies saddle rather than a fast and furious dash to the finish line.

While certainly enjoyable, it doesn’t have that extra distinctive and complex character that I find most attractive.

And I’ve come to learn the 10 year has been discontinued and newer offerings are now are either a standard NAS Single Malt or 15 not 10 years… perhaps an older incarnation of the Tyrconnell will gain those additional elements that can transform a whisky from merely ‘nice’ into ‘oooh baby!’

Special ‘nod’ to a fab lass who was our delightful ‘mule’!

Tyrconnell 10 year (Whisky Lady)

Tyrconnell 10 year (Whisky Lady)

What others are saying:

Other Irish whiskies sampled til date:

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