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Welsh whisky

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Welsh whisky (Welsh: wisgi Cymreig) is a whisky made in Wales. Whisky has been distilled in Wales since the Middle Ages, but production died out in the late nineteenth century. In the 1990s attempts were made to revive the practice, resulting in the establishment of Wales's first distillery in over one hundred years. Today Welsh whisky is represented by Penderyn.


Wales has a long history of alcohol production, but distillation came in the Middle Ages.

"The Great Welsh Warrior" Reaullt Hir is said to have distilled chwisgi from braggot brewed by the monks of Bardsey Island in AD 356. These monks then allegedly developed the art of distilling further.[1] However this is unlikely. The name "Reaullt" is a High Medieval loanword from Anglo-Norman French,[2] so this name would not have been used before the eleventh century.

The medieval Welsh stories of The Mabinogion mention fermentation but not distillation; the end of the "Mead Song" in a sixteenth-century manuscript of the sixth-century Tales of Taliesin mentions distillation, although mead is a fermented beverage.


Penderyn Distillery
Penderyn Distillery

Manufacturing of whisky in Wales declined during the nineteenth century, with the commercial development of liquor discouraged by the rise of the temperance movement. The last notable distillery was established by R. J. Lloyd Price in 1887 at Frongoch. His company, the Welsh Whisky Distillery Company, was not a success and was sold in 1900 to William Owen of Bala for £5000.[3] The company was finally liquidated in 1910.[4]

In the 1990s entrepreneurs attempted to revive distillation in the country. The first attempts entailed bottling Scottish blends in Wales as "Welsh whisky", but a lawsuit by Scotch distillers ended the enterprise.[5] In 2000 the foundation of the Welsh Whisky Company (now known as Penderyn) was announced. A distillery was built at Penderyn in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Production commenced in 2000 and the finished product, the first whisky commercially produced in Wales for a century, went on sale in 2004.[6]

In 2016 the Dà Mhile distillery near Llandysul in west Wales bottled its first whisky, an organic single grain whisky. With four distilleries making and marketing whisky, Wales is classified under European Union legislation as having a whisky industry.[7][8][9]

In 2020, the Coles[9][10] distillery produced the third single malt whisky in Wales at Llanddarog in Carmarthenshire.

The Aber Falls distillery in Abergwyngregyn, Gwynedd commenced production in late 2017 and is scheduled to release its first whisky in 2021.[11][12]


  1. ^ Mary Chitty (1992). The monks on Ynys Enlli.
  2. ^ Kraaijeveld, Alex. "Welsh whisky - The Early Myths". Celtic Malts. Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  3. ^ Deeds relating to Frongoch Whiskey Distillery, Llanfor Meirionnydd Archives
  4. ^ Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. pp. 957–958. ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6.
  5. ^ Amanda Kelly (8 May 2000). "Welsh will make a rare bit of whiskey". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 November 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2009.
  6. ^ "Rebirth of Welsh whisky spirit". BBC News. 8 May 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  7. ^ "Wales secures 'whisky' status as Dà Mhìle bottles grain". www.thespiritsbusiness.com. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  8. ^ Pyke, Chris (26 September 2016). "Wales can now officially be called a whisky nation". Wales Online. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Distillery has created its first single malt whisky".
  10. ^ "Coles family brewery and distillery".
  11. ^ Hughes, Owen (14 August 2017). "North Wales's first whisky distillery set to start production...but drinkers will have to wait for first tipple". Daily Post (North Wales). Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Aber Falls Whisky Distillery". www.aberfallsdistillery.com.

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Welsh whisky
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