By Richard Thomas
The Sherrywood Single Malt is the third expression of Penderyn’s regular line of Welsh whiskey. Like the distillery’s Madeira Finish whiskey and many Sherry-finished whiskeys, the Sherrywood uses a two-cask maturation method. In keeping with Penderyn’s practice, aging starts in used bourbon barrels, mostly coming from Buffalo Trace and Evan Williams. Then the whiskey goes into dry Oloroso Sherry from Spain for a finishing stage.
This practice is hardly unique to Penderyn. The Balvenie Doublewood uses a similar aging method, as do many Sherry-finish whiskeys. Penderyn’s special twist on its Sherry-finish whiskey comes from the Penderyn process itself. Keep in mind that the Welsh whiskey-makers put the “micro” into “micro-distillery,” producing only one casks’ worth of whiskey per day.
The barley used in making Penderyn is supplied by S. A. Brain & Co. of Cardiff, a firm that traces its roots back to the late 19th Century. Water is at least as important as grain to whiskey-making, and Penderyn’s water comes from a limestone spring in Brecon Beacons National Park. Finally, the whiskey is distilled using Penderyn’s unique still design, and bottled at a standard alcohol content of 46%, higher than the norm of comparable spirits from neighboring Scotland or Ireland.
In the glass, the Sherrywood Single Malt has a yellow-gold color, akin to that of a light apple juice. That look is appropriate, since the nose is a crisp, sweet scent that reminds me of apples and pears. Underlying that apple crispness is a hint of toffee.
The flavor of the Sherrywood the toffee comes forward into the rich sweetness, and the taste of raisins becomes evident. The whiskey is somewhat spicy and distinctly oaky, giving it a complex, full-bodied character. Whiskey finished in sherry casks tend towards the dry side, and there is a hint of dryness on the palate that grows into the finish, carrying with it the oak and just a hint of spice. The finish is quite long, especially for such a crisp, dry whiskey.
Like other Penderyns, the Sherrywood Single Malt comes in a Euromodern, wine-style bottle and bears no aging statement.
Penderyn sells their Sherrywood Single Malt from their website store for £41, while in Europe the going rate is about €53. In the United States, it retails for about $65 or $70 per bottle.