PENDERYN 12 YEAR PORTWOOD
Single Barrel #PT113 selected by ImpEx Beverages (2020)
MASH BILL – 100% malted barley
PROOF – 120.8
AGE – 12 years
DISTILLERY – Penderyn
PRICE – $122
WORTH BUYING? – Oh yes
I bought this bottle specifically to pair with a duck dinner that a friend, Kenny Toll, prepared for my partner and I. Kenny is an actor who was in town from New York for a play, and was staying at our place for three weeks while we were across town house-sitting. He offered to make us a meal as a thank you for the free housing. We were happy to oblige.
In addition to an actor, Kenny is a natural wine sommelier. Readers of this blog may recognize him from a February 2022 palate comparison post on the Redwood Empire Haystack Needle Chardonnay Cask Finished Bourbon.
Kenny is one of those people who can do many things well—act, dance, write, play music, play chess, cook, advise on natural wines, and generally be a kind friend. As artists ourselves, who understand the value of free housing, my partner and I were very glad to offer him our place to stay, and as glad to partake in his excellent duck dinner.
Naturally I wanted to pair a good whisky with the duck. I eventually landed on this Penderyn 12 Year Portwood Matured release. The whisky’s rich, elegant, decadent, dark fruity character seemed a good match for a similarly rich duck breast. Long story short, it was a very enjoyable evening!
And of course I also wanted to give this whisky its due here on the blog. So here we are, five days after uncorking and as many pours into the bottle. Considering the occasion for which I’d uncorked it, I prepped my palate with some Duck Fat Caramel. Very decadent.
These brief notes were taken using a traditional Glencairn.
COLOR – orange, amber, brass and gold
NOSE – red tea spices, fresh and baked plum, a chocolatey caramel, fresh baked pastries, blackberries, dried strawberry, dried fig, a bundle of dried long-stem grasses, thyme, rosemary twigs without the leaves
TASTE – a silky, syrupy texture, with the savory herbal and sweet fruit notes in lovely balance as in a fresh baked loaf of some breakfast bread, everything dark and bright at once
FINISH – spicy red wine, the herbal notes scattered on a long fruity caramel-chocolate note
OVERALL – desserty, decadent, lively, and really good
This is exceptional. It’s both interesting and entertaining. A crowd pleaser worth contemplating. It makes me think of movies like Everything Everywhere All At Once or Strictly Ballroom or even Mad Max: Fury Road, films that manage to be at once highly entertaining and legitimately complex in their layers. Like those films, this whisky doesn’t bide its time. It moves. I have to keep up with everything its throwing at me, but it throws everything at me with such ease and finesse I feel totally able to take it all in.
Penderyn is my first experience with Welsh whisky. Not that there are terribly many of them. Aber Falls comes to mind. A quick google didn’t turn up much else. In any case, I can’t say with any real breadth of education what is Welsh about this. But it’s dang good, offering a range of flavor notes that collaborate well to create a cohesive and impactful whole. The proof is strong, supporting the flavors exceptionally well without at all overwhelming them.
Likewise, the presentation is elegant. The slender, ascetic simplicity of the bottle and its thin band of a label stand in complementary contrast to the faux-stenciled Penderyn name running vertically down the side. It’s a very moderne presentation, without coming across coldly. On the contrary, it highlights the warm colors of the whisky, which in the bottle show in rich wood tones like mahogany and walnut and cherrywood.
The closest experience I can think of would be certain Westward Single Malts I’ve had, with their similar red tea spices and enthusiastic bounty of dark rich flavor. Tasted blind, between the flavor explosion and the incongruously easygoing high proof, I might actually guess this was a Westward product. No doubt a pairing is in order!
Thank you Penderyn. Very pleased to make your acquaintance. I look forward to more!