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 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 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.
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.
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:
- Edinburgh Whisky Blog – Penderyn Sherrywood vs Peated
- Scotch Hobbyists Blog – Penderyn Madiera
- Whisky Pages – Review of all three Penderyn expressions
As for the Oban:
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