September 30th, 2019
Any whisky fans who read the Oakeley blog? And what about Welsh whisky fans? We’ve previously explored the history of the iconic Welsh whisky brand Penderyn (you can read the blog post here), but when the Penderyn distillery opened it’s doors in 2004 it was the only whisky distillery in Wales and was the first company to produce whisky here since the 19th century.
The Penderyn distillery is situated in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales, benefiting from all the deliciously fresh Welsh spring water. Until the turn of the twentieth century, there had been a rich tradition for distilling and producing spirits in Wales. The monks of Bardsey Island were thought to have refined the science of distillation in the middle ages and the industry thrived as hard working people looked for antidotes to the daily grind of rural life.
One well known distillery was founded in Pembrokeshire at the turn of the 18th century, and was owned by the Williams family. Evan Williams immigrated to the USA soon after and opened his own distillery in Kentucky in 1783, which still produces prize bourbon today. It is also believed that the world famous Jack Daniel has Welsh blood, as well as American bourbon, flowing through his veins.
However, during the mid 1800’s the temperance movement swept across the country and drinking alcohol became frowned upon. Alcohol production, sales, distribution and purchase were prohibited in many areas. By the turn of the century there was only one commercial whisky distillery remaining in Wales, near the market town of Bala. But, by 1910, the fate of that too had been sealed by the sober society of temperance.
When the first bottles of Penderyn were sold in 2004, it was the first commercially available pure Welsh whisky available for almost 100 years.
And in 2008, the Penderyn company opened it’s doors to the public, with the creation of a visitor centre, which now sees over 350,000 visitors annually. And last week, the company announced a bid to open up a base and distillery in North Wales. The £5m project will include a visitor centre, and the company is currently looking at the old archives building in Llandudno for the project, which it hopes will create many full time jobs as well as adding another first class visitor attraction to North Wales.
Let’s drink to that!