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Wales only Distiller raises a Glass in Celebration at Winning Spirits Oscar

Wales only Distiller raises a Glass in Celebration at Winning Spirits Oscar

Brecon Gin

London, Bombay, and Plymouth all have well established links to famous gins.

 

Now Brecon can be added to the list after the Penderyn distillery took gold at the 2011 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) – the “Oscars of the spirits world”.

 

Made within the Brecon Beacons National Park, Brecon Special Reserve is infused with juniper from Macedonia, orange peel from Spain, Chinese cassia bark, Sri Lankan liquorice, Madagascan cinnamon, French angelica root, Russian coriander, Indian nutmeg, Spanish lemon peel and Italian orris root.

 

It uses mineral water drawn from directly beneath the Penderyn distillery, filtered through 340 million-year-old rock formations.

The makers of the spirit, until now barely known outside of Wales, said they were over the moon with the result.

 

Penderyn managing director, Stephen Davies, said: “We were thrilled. It’s probably the most prestigious competition in the world for spirits and the one everyone watches.”

 

The firm found out they were in the running for the prize when distiller Gillian MacDonald was sent an e-mail hinting at the possibility.

The 31-year-old, Wales’ only distiller, said: “I had an e-mail saying they would phone us with the official results. And then we all logged on and found out we had won. We knew we had done okay because we had had silver medals before in the past, and we were not sure whether it was going to be another one of those.

 

“There was a minute where we had a bit of a pat on the back.”

Mr Davies, on business in the Costa Blanca at the time, celebrated with a glass of the very stuff.

 

The 46-year-old said: “I celebrated with a very large gin and tonic with our Spanish importer.

 

“We have been building the brand in Spain for three or four years.

“The tradition there is to have a very tall glass and a lot of ice.”

More than half of the 50,000 bottles the company shifted last year were sold in Spain. The rest were sold in the UK.

 

Ms MacDonald said: “It is a science and art mixture when it comes to the science of distillation and the art of mixing flavours to get the blend exactly as you want it.”

 

And she is used to being told she has the best job in the world. Mr Davies said: “Gill is the only distiller in Wales.

 

“She has got a pretty good job and does it well.”

 

But she was adamant there was more to it than boozing.  “The majority is nosing rather than drinking it all day, which is what people think I do,” she said.

 

“Nosing it, giving it ratings and making notes to finalise exactly what we want.”

 

Of course, there are more than a few people happy to offer their services and the question she most often gets is: “Have you got any job opportunities?”

 

“We do a series of master classes at the distillery where you can come and learn about whisky,” she said.

 

“And when you say who you are and what you do people ask if there are any openings. It’s an interesting job.”

 

The competition judges tasted hundreds of spirits from countries including Sweden, Taiwan and Vietnam in the contest.

 

In their notes they said of the Brecon gin: “Colourless. Distinctly traditional nose with juniper prominent, yet with intriguing and undefinable nuances in the background.

 

“Big and full in the mouth with beautiful balance. Juniper lead flavours meld together to give lovely refreshing gin in traditional character.”

 

IWSC marketing manager David Kelly said: “This is a great award for Wales and reflects some truly great work being carried out at Penderyn.”

 

Imogen Stalinski, bar supervisor at the Potted Pig restaurant in Cardiff, which specialises in gin said the Brecon spirit was very popular with diners.

 

She said: “It’s a really nice gin, very clean. With some gins, you can find they really taste of alcohol and everything else they have added to it, but the Brecon gin does not really taste like that. It tastes like a good gin.

 

“It’s a very upmarket gin and very popular. Our restaurant specialises in Welsh produce so people like it as it is a Welsh gin.

 

“We recommend it to people – it’s a classic gin and makes a good G and T.”

 

www.welsh-whisky.co.uk/spirits/brecon-gin.aspx 

A Taste of Wales Fact File 

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