What Does It Take to Make a Welsh Single Malt?

Distilleries in Wales have been getting a higher profile lately

Welsh whisky
A bottle on display at the Penderyn Distillery Brecon Beacons on January 28, 2022.
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: there’s this distilled spirit that comes from one of the nations that makes up the United Kingdom, and the process of making it requires a very particular selection of ingredients from a specific region. No, this doesn’t involve Scotch whisky — instead, it has to do with a lesser-known but still enticing group of distilleries found elsewhere in the U.K. Wales, specifically.

Writing at The New York Times, Stephen Castle documented the challenges Welsh distilleries face in terms of having their output considered a protected regional product. Think Champagne and sparkling wine, but from the region closer to Cardiff and Swansea. And given that Wales is not terribly large, this leaves some distilleries facing logistical challenges. Castle’s article focuses on Aber Falls, a distillery whose spirits are set to arrive in the U.S. next year — and who had to rethink some of their production decisions when they nearly lost their protected designation over the location where their whisky was bottled.

While single malts from Wales are not yet as well-known as their Scottish counterparts, they have garnered some enthusiastic reviews in recent years. The Whiskey Wash called Penderyn’s Rich Oak Single Malt “a delightful dram” and stated that “[t]he interplay between aromatic fruits, sweetness and oak tannins is very well done.” As for Aber Falls, in 2021 Malt hailed the distillery’s inaugural release, writing, “For a first release of a very young whisky, I think this is superbly done.”

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As Castle points out in his article, some of Wales’s best-known connections to whiskey can be found across the Atlantic — namely, Evan Williams, who was a Welsh immigrant. He’s not the only American distiller with ties to Wales — and as more Welsh single malt arrives on these shores, it’s a connection we’re likely to hear more about in the years to come.


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