Penderyn Madeira 46%

It has been several years since I sampled a Penderyn… We simply don’t often come across a Welsh whisky in Mumbai, India.

After deciding on a trio of miniatures – Glencadam 15Auchroisk and Glen Keith – my sampling companion pulled out an open bottle of Penderyn Madeira. Seemed a perfect chance to revisit!


Penderyn Madeira NAS 46%

What did we find?

  • Nose – Initially lots of wood varnish then tropical fruits – particularly bananas almost like the synthetic banana flavouring, demerara sugar, quite a sharp quality too
  • Palate – First quaff was a bit peculiar, old musty wooden cupboard, medicinal, forced wine… but then it began to mellow and shift into custard, granny candies,
  • Finish – First impression was quite tart then sweetened – cranberries shifting into vanilla flavouring

This was one of those whiskies that took some time to get used to… Our 1st  thought was “you can have a conversation about this whisky” but that didn’t necessarily translate into enthusiastic appreciation.

Yet at some point that shifted – about the time the nose took on a distinctive “banana cream pie” we found ourselves rather enjoying it. Funny how that happens sometimes…

For kicks, I pulled out my tasting notes from more than four years ago… sampled as a trio of Penderyn Sherrywood, Madeira, Peated

  • Nose – Varnish, bit of caramel, lots of flowery perfumed notes and quite sweet, fruity with banana and melons?
  • Palate – Some body, a little bolder, woody, more character than the Sherrywood
  • Finish – Short, bit of fruit yet also bitter

As for the Pendryn official tasting notes? Here is what they have to say:

  • Nose – It has a classic freshness with aromas of cream toffee, rich fruit and raisins.
  • Palate… is crisp and finely rounded, with the sweetness to balance an appetising dryness.
  • Finish – Notes of tropical fruit, raisins and vanilla persist in the finish.

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Whisky Archives – Penderyn Sherrywood, Madeira and Peated with Oban 14

As both our formal March and April monthly tasting sessions were cancelled, I started to poke around my ‘Whisky Archives’.

I stumbled upon old scribbled notes from when we tried three expressions from the same distillery (Penderyn) and closed with an Oban. I believe it was a 2011 tasting and there were no photos either so have relied on alternate sources (duly acknowledged). I found the tasting notes frustratingly ‘sparse’ – clearly drafted before I took the mantle of ‘chronicler’ seriously!

Welcome to Wales Wysgi

Little did we know we were about to be introduced to ‘wysgi’ from Wales!

Penderyn is found in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons. It has the distinction of being the only whisky distillery in Wales, launched in 2000 after the Welsh whisky industry was shut down in 1894. Penderyn whiskies are typically first aged in bourbon barrels – predominantly Buffalo Trace – and then finished in Madeira or other casks.

As always, our tasting was ‘blind’ followed by the reveal…

Penderyn Sherrywood NAS 46%

  • Nose – Jackfruit, perfumy, sweetness and light, honey, after a bit a hint of zesty lemon
  • Palate – Starts well, lovely on the palate however not much body, lighter than we were in the mood for…
  • Finish – Slightly spicy then softens
  • Thoughts – Ladylike and almost… well… bland…
Penderyn Sherrywood (XX)

Penderyn Sherrywood (

Penderyn Madeira NAS 46%

  • Nose – Varnish, bit of caramel, lots of flowery perfumed notes and quite sweet, fruity with banana and melons?
  • Palate – Some body, a little bolder, woody, more character than the Sherrywood
  • Finish – Short, bit of fruit yet also bitter
Penderyn Madeira (xx)

Penderyn Madeira (

Penderyn Peated NAS 46%

  • Nose – Smelly socks, vanilla, sweet, hint of leather, citrus – quite a contrast to the earlier expressions
  • Palate – Charcoal, wood oil, again the citrusy element, peppercorns
  • Finish – Peppery but doesn’t stick around long or morph into anything further
  • Thoughts – Had the stamp of a bourbon cask with peat? Interesting but not something that really grabs you.
Penderyn Peated (

Penderyn Peated (

We then shifted gear to a whisky perhaps double the age (or more!?) of the Penderyn expressions to the highlands with Oban.

Oban 14 year 43%

  • Nose – Spicy, fruity, orange peel
  • Palate – Spice, nutmeg
  • Finish – Lingers… finally!

Quote: “Early evening drink”

The last time I had the Oban 14 year I did not prepare any tasting notes. It was in Singapore late 2014 when I enjoyed an absolutely delightful evening at home with a gal pal. Nothing could have been a better dram for our mood, mad conversations, laughter and sheer joy in catching up after ages. It was indeed an early evening which grew into a later evening and the Oban kept us company all along.

Oban 14 year (Whisky Exchange)

Oban 14 year (Whisky Exchange)

Overall impression

When I look back on the scribbles, they seem a bit uncharitable. At the time, we were spoilt with a series of beautifully aged and balanced Scottish whiskies and were just starting to poke our nose and palate around newer entrants.

Contradictorily while our ability to discern nuances has increased, as a group we have also grown more adventuresome and open to the range of whisky styles. We no longer expect a whisky should be robust and instead delight in the more exquisite delicate notes too just as much as we embrace the peaty or sherry monsters out there.

We can now also put better into perspective more youthful whiskies and go through a re-calibration of ‘young, shows promise’ vs ‘erhm just doesn’t cut it for us’.

I’m also a massive fan of giving a whisky multiple tasting opportunities. Once is simply not enough. It would be interesting to revisit the Penderyn expressions to see what we would discover today. And I know the Oban is a favourite of a few.

If you would like to check out some ‘real’ tasting notes for the Penderyn expressions, check out:

As for the Oban:


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