The History of Distilling In Wales

  
"There is more history, geography and geology in a bottle of whisky than in all the text books in all the world". Anon
Like the other Celtic nations, Wales has a long history of spirit distillation. It may even have started as far back as the 4th century AD, when a man known as Reaullt Hir was allegedly distilling on Bardsey Island off the North Wales coast.
The ingredients of this early version of the spirit known universally as "aqua-vitae" or "gwirod" in the Welsh language, are said to have been a mix of barley, yeast and honey, distilled to make a basic raw spirit.
In more recent times, there was a small commercial distillery at Dale in Pembrokeshire, which opened in 1705. This distillery was owned by the family of Evan Williams, who later emigrated from Wales to the USA and helped found the Kentucky Whiskey industry.  His name is still attached to a number of high quality bourbons to this day.  Even the famed Jack Daniels is rumoured to have come from Welsh roots.

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Welsh Whisky 1889

In the late 19th century, a malt whisky distillery briefly operated at Frongoch, near Bala in North Wales, under the chairmanship of a Mr. Robert Willis.  In the late 1800s, the "chapel building mania" in Wales with its associated temperance movement (combined with the unfortunate death of Mr. Willis under the wheels of a horse and cart) conspired to put an end to legal distillation in Wales for more than 100 years.

On 14th September 2000, history was made when the first distillation was carried out at The Welsh Whisky Company's Penderyn Distillery, in the picturesque Brecon Beacons National Park.