When you are the only game in town, the temptation to sit back on your heels must be great. However, that’s certainly not the case with Penderyn Whisky of Wales. Recently we spoke with the company’s Commercial Director Sian Whitelock about how they continue to innovate and invest in their single malt.
What are your own roots?
I was born and raised in South Wales, Port Talbot, and I still live here, very close to Aberavon Beach, which holds very many fond memories for me of my childhood with my family.
When and why did you get involved with Penderyn?
I joined Penderyn in 2005. The owner of the Industrial Services company that I previously worked for sold their business and invested in a number of other businesses, and Penderyn was one of them. Whilst I stayed at the old company for a little while, I was soon to be offered a Director’s position at Penderyn and was delighted to be part of the team.
What are the challenges of the job?
Whisky is a matured product, so what’s distilled today isn’t ready for sale for a number of years. We have been growing steadily year on year, but also have to manage limited whisky stock availability. Having built additional stills and production capability over the past year means that we will have plenty more room for growth in about four to five years. In the meantime, we have to manage supply and stocks very carefully.
What are the rewards?
Seeing the company grow steadily to the respected position we are in today is very satisfying. Day to day, meeting new customers and discussing and tasting Penderyn is always rewarding.
What is the company’s history and mandate?
The company is privately owned and was set up in 1998. It evolved from an initial discussion between a group of friends talking in the local pub about how there wasn’t a Welsh whisky. The rest, as they say, is history.
How is Penderyn unique in the marketplace?
As the only distillery in Wales, Penderyn is unique in its revival of whisky making in the country. We also use a very modern still configuration, which delivers a new-make spirit that is very unique, flavourful and fruity.
What’s next on the company’s agenda?
Penderyn has invested heavily this year in additional stills and mashing facilities that will allow us to grow our sales three to four times that of current sales levels. This will require much planning and preparation for these increases and the development of new markets.
What are your thoughts on the state of Wales’ whiskey industry?
At present, Penderyn is the only player in the Welsh whisky industry. However, that may change in the future, and if it does, I think it will be a positive change. Wales could develop its own whisky category to sit alongside scotch and world whiskies. Penderyn is currently selling all that can be produced, so for us, business is good.
What can be done to grow the industry?
At present, we are slightly constrained by stock, but when our stock from increased production is available, then we will be targeting growth with existing markets and also new export markets not yet explored.