Not Only Does Welsh Whisky Exist, It's Seeking Protected Status
Many of the world's best whiskies are tied to their place of origin. The whisky of Scotland is so renowned it's known simply as "Scotch." Bourbon whiskey is a distinctly American spirit. Japanese whiskies are increasingly rare and coveted, while Irish whiskies are increasingly trendy. And what American hasn't tried a Canadian whiskey? Also, who can forget the wonderful whiskies of… uh… Wales?
Clearly, Welsh whisky is not a household name. A big part of the issue is that, up until recently, it barely existed: The first commercially sold whisky distilled in Wales in over a century was only released in 2004, according to the BBC. However, as the craft distilling boom has caused an increase in British whisky producers south of Scotland, Wales is now home to several (literally about five) distillers, and with the United Kingdom having left the European Union, these brands are now working towards Welsh whisky—as small of a market as it may currently be—to get its own Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
Aber Falls—which launched in 2017 and is slated to release its first whisky this year—is leading the charge to determine an official definition for "Welsh whisky" and earn these products protected status, according to The Drinks Business.
"The Welsh government is keen to try and put a PGI in place for us. We've written an initial draft that's gone round to all of the distillers, looking at the different production aspects within our whiskies," James Wright, Aber Falls' managing director, told the site. "We all have different criteria that we feel would benefit the Welsh whisky category and we want to keep flexibility while making sure there are still some cues in there that make us stand out within the marketplace."
"The ball is rolling for potentially receiving protection this year," he added. "But, our ultimate priority and our vision is to create a great tasting whisky that's historic and has global distribution, which will drive the Welsh whisky category. The PGI will help to do that and strengthen our quality."
As the BBC reported last month, Brexit—which officially took effect on January 1 of this year—changed the rules on protected geographical food and drink names, and now that the U.K. is in control of its own destiny, the country is actually encouraging British producers to apply for PGIs. As Welsh MP Virginia Crosbie explained, "In order to mark the enhanced quality of these goods, it is vital that we continue to give them the geographical indicators that inform customers nationally and internationally of their first-class standard."
So, yes, Welsh whisky may finally be put on the map—even if it's just so people can say, "I didn't know Wales made whisky."