Once we landed at Heathrow airport, we picked up our rental car and drove two hours to a town just outside of Swansea. I cannot even begin to tell you how beautiful the country side is in Wales. I am just so thankful that my lovely cousin was willing to play tour guide! One our first day in Wales we headed to the Penderyn Distillery at the base of Brecon Beacons National Park.
We signed up for a tour of the distillery (the website says to pre-book but we managed to walk in without pre-booking). Admission is £8.50 per person, this includes a guided tour and two tastings. For those driving, you are allowed one tasting and you get a miniature to take home.
Vacations are great because you get to day drink without the guilt! Penderyn Distillery asks that you not take any photographs while on the tour, so if you want to see exactly how they make their whisky, you will just to visit them in person! They were kind enough to let us take a few photos in the tasting room and gift shop.
Penderyn Distillery buys used bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace in Kentucky and ages their whisky in the barrels. The bourbon left over in the wood imparts a soft, sweet, caramel flavour. Did you know that bourbon distillery's are only allowed, by law, to use the barrel once? This rule was implemented during the American Depression to keep the barrel makers, and wood industries, thriving. This rule is still used today and bourbon distillery's ship their used barrels to Scotland, Mexico and here in Wales.
Penderyn has a wide variety of whiskies, a gin, a vodka and my personal favourite, the Merlyn welsh cream liqueur. It's like Baileys but way better. Sorry Baileys. You have been replaced as the official Christmas drink in my house!
The distillery opened in 2004 with HRH Price Charles on hand to help open the facility. I have to admit, it was pretty cool to be standing in the same place as the future King of England!
You can purchase a whisky or other spirit to take home and enjoy. We bought a bottle of single malt madeira, after maturing in a bourbon barrel it is finished in a Madeira cask, and a bottle of cream liqueur. They managed to survive in our checked baggage on the journey home and will be a special treat later on.
After the tour, we were feeling hungry but still wanted to see more of the beautiful Welsh countryside. My cousin suggested we head to the first pub of our UK trip, The George IV Inn in Upper Cwmtwrch. I won't even pretend that I can pronounce that. We drove along the edge of the mountain on A4109 (here are the full directions). It was a 30 minute car ride through the most magical looking mountain range I had ever seen.
If you google 'Wales' and 'King Arthur' you can find all the sites they believe he and Merlin lived and are possibly buried. The thick fog adds a little mystery to the mountains. Like at any moment a medieval character or a dragon might appear.
AMH and me.
Wales is known as the castle capital of the world. This little outpost along the lake was designed to mimic the area's castles.
All signs in Wales are in English and Welsh. Also, any white dots you see on the mountain are actually sheep. They are everywhere and too cute for words.
A little know fact is that Wales has wild horses! This guy here was part of a farm, the wild horses are so fast, I was not able to capture a clear photo of them!
My cousin and our lovely tour guide @chantelleselby. Isn't she adorable!
The George was perfect for our first pub. The decor is traditional British pub and this particular one is well known in the area for their Sunday roast beef dinners.
After snooping around and snapping a few photos of the decor (one day I will have a fireplace just like this one!) we headed back through the magical mountain with memories of a wonderful first day in Wales.