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Issue 18 - Whisky woe in Wales

Whisky Magazine Issue 18
September 2001


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Whisky woe in Wales

Charles MacLean recalls a bygone era when distinguished gentlemen with a love of alliteration decided to distil whisky in Wales – only to have their brave venture scuppered by suspect casks and the Temperance movement.

What is thought to be one of only three surviving bottles from a distillery in North Wales which closed in 1900 will be auctioned on Wednesday 26th September 2001 at Phillips International Auctioneers, Tredegar House, Newport, Wales. The other two – one of which belongs to HRH The Prince of Wales – can be seen at the Museum of Welsh Life in Cardiff.

With the auctioned bottle will come a collection of framed memorabilia of this vainglorious attempt to produce classic malt whisky in the principality.

These photographs have tantalising, and sometimes obscure, captions, such as: “When Queen Victoria stayed at Pale (near Bala) she was presented with a magnificent polished oak cask, with silver hoops, filled with Welsh Whisky by Mr. Price. A similar presentation was made to the Prince of Wales in 1894.

Judging by the letters of enquiry since received from the Yeoman of the Cellars, the Queen is uncommonly anxious to taste her own whisky. Some time after this the whisky styled itself ‘Royal' Welsh Whisky.”

And also: “The workers at the Frongoch Distillery were brave men to endure the scorn of their contemporaries. Hence the conspicuous and inevitable kettle in the photograph. Since Michael D. Jones, Principal of the Independent College, who started the Patagonian migration scheme lived here at the time, Welsh Nationalism and religious beliefs were so strong that some of the local outside suppliers had to effect delivery by night for fear of being ostracised by thei...

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