Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Enter The Dragon: A Taste of Wales - Penderyn and Danzy Jones

Last weekend I took the laborious journey from London back to my homeland of Shropshire. If there is one failing of National Rail it is not providing me with direct (Virgin Pendolino) trains from major cities to my hometown in the rural borderland of the English Marches. I don't quite understand why National Rail hasn't addressed this pertinent issue with the haste and efficiency I associate with this British Institution, but it remains a gripe I cannot put to rest. Anyway... taking the train back after a year away from country pubs, farm food and fresh air was refreshing to say the least, more so because if I associate one of many things with going home, it is the flow of decent drink. From Vouvrey to Rose Port, from Llangollen ale to my local Station Bitter, I was in for some excellent drinkage. More so because my dad brought me up drinking whisky, so of course it was inevitable that he would crack open some interesting looking bottles this weekend, as you will see in this week's blogposts.

It seems fitting, having grown up on the English side of the Welsh border, that on my return I sample some of the alcoholic delights of Wales, a country that has an excellent culinary record and as I was to realise, some great drinks as well. The first is from the (relatively) new distillery of Penderyn and the second is a Welsh whisky liqueur.

Penderyn is a single malt I've been aware of for some time, but can't actually remember trying apart from maybe in a local pub after multiple pints had ruined my palate. So I was interested to try this Welsh whisky. Furthermore I also got to have a healthy glass of Brecon Gin that is also distilled at Penderyn. This juniper-led gin had a fantastic celery character that gave it a freshness that I would love to apply to a cocktail in the future. It was more delicate than other gins I drink and not at all cloying. See future blogs for gin reviews. Back to the whisky.

46% - No Age Statement - Madeira Cask
Nose: Vanilla and toffee followed by red fruits, predominately raspberry. There is a cereal quality that comes to the fore with time in the glass and a hint of cinder toffee.
Palate: Vanilla and cereal hold the ground here with a biscuity edge.
Finish: Spirity but sweet with gooseberry overtones.
Overall: Considering this is still a fairly young whisky it has a fair amount going on. I particularly liked the biscuit flavours and gooseberry finish. I'm excited to try their other expressions, notably the sherry wood finish.

The Welsh whisky liqueur I mentioned earlier was that of Danzy Jones. My experience of whisky liqueurs is fairly limited. When I was younger I regularly mixed Famous Grouse and Drambuie into Rusty Nails, I have tried (and spat out) Atholl Brose, and was surprised by the Compass Box whisky infusion that is Orangerie. So I don't have much to go on, but Danzy Jones had a lot more going for it than other whisky liqueurs I have tried.

Danzy Jones
32% - No Age Statement - Welsh Whisky Liqueur
Nose: There was a linoleum quality matched with chlorine with a thick base of stewed damsens and rich mincemeat (the mincepie kind).
Palate: Sweet mincemeat and rum butter in a very Christmassy flavour profile.
Finish: Burnt Christmas cake, intense if fairly swift.
Overall: The best whisky liqueur I have tried, my associations with it would make it a great Christmas whisky, maybe one to wash down a mincepie with, Wales has done it again!

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