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Master Class at Penderyn

Penderyn DistilleryLast week I was invited by the people at Penderyn Whisky to undertake one of their master class tours.

Now, this isn't your ordinary tour. They of course do them as well. They last around an hour and are always good fun. But the master class tour is a lot more in depth. It lasts 2 and a half hours and is for those with a real interest in whisky and how it's made.

The tour was lead by the distiller Gillian Macdonald, who incidentally is one of the only female distillers in the world. We were joined by some locals, a group of friends on a stag weekend from Leicester and Megan Eaves (@megoizzy), a journalist from the United States who I was accompanying.

It all began in the boardroom which overlooks the bottling plant. Here we found out about the history of distilling in Wales and how Penderyn Whisky came into being at the turn of the century. (In case you're wondering, plans were literally drawn up one evening on the back of a beer mat at the local pub).

We then learnt about the different types of whisky from around the world and how Scottish Whisky was different to Irish Whiskey and what made Penderyn different and unique (It is made using just one still - you see I was paying attention).

Gillian then explained what made a good whisky and what flavours you could expect to find in one. She then had a little test for us. She passed around 10 bottles containing aromas to see if we had a distiller's nose and could identify the smells. I managed a 100% record in identifying the flavours - yes 0 out of 10. I don't think Gillian will be appointing me as her assistant anytime soon.
Penderyn Distillery Still
Then it was downstairs and into the room housing the still where we got a close look at the big copper drum and network of pipes, cables and valves that are needed to produce the whisky. We then saw the different types of casks that the clear whisky is matured in. It's from these casks that the whisky draws its colours and flavours.

Back up to the boardroom where it was time to taste two different types of Penderyn, one of their normal variety and one of the peat flavoured whiskies. The peat whisky was actually created by accident when the distillery was sent the wrong batch of casks to mature their spirit in. The whisky they produced in the end was so nice they decided to bottle and sell it and has become one of their most popular varieties.
Penderyn Distillery Master Class
The master class then naturally ended in the bar where we got to sample more of their produce including their gin, vodka and cream liquor. Gillian was a fantastic host, always ready to answer questions and to make sure we were all having a good time.

I have done the normal tour many times, but this was my first master class. I certainly learnt a lot and the whole experience was very enjoyable and judging by the laughter and good humour so did the rest of the group.

Iechyd da!

For more information on Penderyn Distillery and their tours please visit their website

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