With a view to synchronising our palates, SF and I (with expert kibitzing provided by TallAsAVan) conducted a tasting of Penderyn whiskies at a distance of four hundred miles, using Skype. This worked really well, except that I found myself rather bellowing.
I'm in two minds about what Penderyn do. They have a weird setup which seems to be the bastard offspring of a pot still and a column still. And they distill to 92% ABV. In other words, they are making something like grain spirit, and relying on the casks to impart a much higher proportion of flavour than normal. On the one hand, selecting high-quality casks to finish your spirit can produce lovely whiskies (think Compass Box), but on the other, what about terroir, typicity?
We tasted the Madeira, Sherrywood, and Peated finishes, and while they are all what I'd call restrained whiskies, I enjoyed them. There's a common theme of tangy fruit; oranges or apricots, and often with a lick of chocolate to them, as well as the same minty note I've found in the Saint George English whisky - the same mintiness you find in Glenkinchie 12 year old.
The Madeira finish is Penderyn's standard expression. No age statement, but it doesn't taste young (no new make spirit character I can see). Instead it tastes smooth, light, and fruity - definitely chocolate oranges. Good to Excellent.
The Sherrywood is the woodiest of the three. On top of the orange-to-apricot flavour, there's a generous handful of dried fruit and nuts, and a surprising, but very tasty, layer of butterscotch. Good.
The Penderyn Peated is drier than tonight's other drams. It has a nice dry smoke to it, with dry earth and a smell of sheds. It tastes of the seaside, but the sweet chocolate orange character comes through nicely. Also Good.
Tasting via Skype was good fun - much laughter - and certainly easier than tweeting, if you are trying to take notes too. I'd recommend you try it. Just don't spill anything into your keyboard...