Roads and Kingdoms: Who Knew That Wales Makes Its Own Whiskey?
From Roads and Kingdoms by Lani Furbank:
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“Half of the blood running through my veins is Welsh. That half comes from my father, who has been ordering drinks in Cardiff pubs since he was tall enough to see over the bar. Now a permanent U.S. resident, he jumps at any chance to re-live and pass down his memories of pub crawls, rugby matches, and mountain hikes in South Wales.
During my early childhood visits to Wales, I was never allowed to join in the activities that involved knocking back pints of warm Guinness or Brains. But nearly two decades later, I returned to the land of my booze-loving people, finally of the requisite height to see over the bar and order a pint. And order I did.
In between all the beer, my family and I managed to fit in a few of the obligatory sight-seeing destinations. I played the part of tourist and stopped in a gift shop at Caerphilly Castle. Nestled among miniature replicas of castles and catapults were little bottles of Welsh wysgi. I assumed it must be a marketing gimmick. Irish and Scotch whisky, sure. But Welsh?
A quick look at a brochure revealed, much to my surprise, that Wales does produce its own whisky, but it’s only been doing so for a little over a decade. We immediately decided that it was time for a break from beer, so the next day, we drove the thirty miles out of Cardiff to the outskirts of the Brecon Beacons National Park, where Penderyn Distillery produces single malt Welsh whisky using water from an aquifer in the rolling mountain range.
The tiny, traditional village of Penderyn isn’t a place you’d expect to find a liquor production facility. In fact, we almost didn’t find it. But, thanks to directions from a heavily-accented local, we arrived at the Visitor Centre and booked ourselves a tour, to include a tasting, of course.
Our tour guide was sweet and friendly, but possessed the classic British reserve, announcing the distillery’s accolades in the form of a question so as not to come off as presumptuous. (‘We’ve won a lot of awards, haven’t we?’)”
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