During the recent TWE Whisky Show, I got chatting to Jon Bryant of blog, Livingroomwhisky.com and he mentioned to me a recent tasting he’d done of the new release from Penderyn called the Red Flag.
Very generously, Jon sent me a sample since I’d not come across it myself yet and I’ve been enjoying a dram or two of it.
As background, the Red Flag is a part of the Welsh whisky distillery’s new Icons of Wales range, which will eventually include 50 limited edition bottlings, each telling the story of an important historic occasion which the Welsh were a part of and which made an impact internationally.
The Red Flag release is in honour of a miner named Dic Penderyn who was executed during the Merthyl Rising protests in 1831. Miners in Merthyr Tydfil had been protesting against the lowering of their wages and general unemployment. During the protest, a red flag (which went on become the symbol of social protest) was raised for the first time in history.
The bottle tells the story behind this uprising and the box has an image designed by illustrator Andrew Davidson.
It has been bottled at 41% and is a bourbon whisky finished in Madeira casks.
When I first poured this, the nose was like being dropped into a vat of melting caramel. There were wafting notes of caramel coated bananas, then a slight tinge of leather bound books. I also had an image come to mind of a highway in Canada in the Rockies in autumn – how I can characterise that as a smell, I’m not sure but that’s also what the whisky seemed to hint of to me.
On the palate, my brain was even more perplexed – but not in a bad way. It was just very different than I was expecting and exploded through a load of flavour layers. Images of a fresh mountain lake setting in Canada, followed by an Easter egg hunt flashed through my mind as I held it in my mouth. There was a freshness to it at first, but then it went very chocolatey (like children’s Easter eggs) before moving into a toasted coconut flavour. It finished on a rush of peach juice – but, quite specifically, the powdered kind you mix with water (think peach Nestea or – for the Canadians reading – the peach drink from Tim Hortons). There was also a dabble of pastry.
This was a dram that baffled me. Both the nose and the palate had so much going on but in slightly different directions. It was intriguing and tasty – drinkable and one for pondering over.
Thanks to Jon for providing the dram and the main photo.