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Issue 44 - Celtic Cousins - Reviving part of Welsh culture

Whisky Magazine Issue 44
November 2004

 

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Celtic Cousins - Reviving part of Welsh culture

The Welsh Whisky Company is in business and impressing whisky experts with its product. Charles MacLean visited it

Like all good whisky tales, the story of the revival of distilling in Wales begins in a pub.

It was 1997. Brian Morgan, an economist who was at the time working for the Welsh Development Agency (he is now director of Cardiff University's Business School), was talking to a friend about the economic future of Wales.

Over a couple of malts, they reflected upon the Welsh influence upon distilling in the USA, which was considerable – think of famous Welsh names such as Jack Daniels and Evan Williams. Would it not be a good idea to approach these companies and see if they would help revive the art of whisky distilling in the Principality?

By chance, two weeks later, another of Brian's friends, Alan Evans, phoned to alert him to the sale, in liquidation, of the plant and effects of Welsh Distillers, including a complete bottling line and an unused still.

Welsh Distillers had an unfortunate history. It evolved out of ‘The Welsh Whisky Company', founded in 1974 by the colourful Dafydd Gittins in Brecon.

Although it produced a couple of brands of so-called ‘Original Welsh Whisky' (or ‘chwisgi'), it did not actually distil: the company bought Scotch and allegedly filtered it through herbs. This aroused the wrath of the Scotch Whisky Association, which objected that it was ‘passing off' and a ‘misleading indication of origin' under EC Regulations.

Daffydd Gittins, did intend to go into production, and even commissioned a still, but he ran out of money and the business (...

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