Simple pleasures, they’re the best. Lounging in the summer sunshine; viewing the stars from the sea; or the sensation of biting into a home-baked cake accompanied by a good cup of tea. And what about an absurdly long walk in autumn, or the thrill of a bracing sea breeze on a clear winter’s day?
On the whole, I’ve never understood people who pursue expensive pleasures – especially those that dissipate immediately. Can the world’s best restaurant really match the memory of a simple meal that someone has slaved over just for you?
Yet I do have one exception to this rule: whisky. The ones I prefer tend to be quite complex and expensive, and the best bit for me isn’t the lingering taste: it’s the first sniff, gone almost immediately.
This week’s whisky, Penderyn, comes from Wales; and while much of that country is known for its simple pleasures, the only Welsh distillery isn’t bad at creating a complex, costly nectar.
It’s not quite up there with Scotch, but all the omens are right. Open the bottle and there’s a fresh smell of the sea spray, but with a sweet edge that slowly mellows. That’ll be the Madeira wine casks used to finish it off.
The taste itself is quite light, but not bland. There’s fruitcake, orange and marzipan, with a tangy, zesty aftertaste and a hint of – samphire? Certainly, that fresh sea taste is central to the spirit.
The whisky lacks heat, and doesn’t have the length of an Islay malt. There’s no burning charcoal fire, or lingering cigar smoke. However, it’s a good postprandial drink likely to provoke an interesting conversation, not least through its unusual origins. Penderyn isn’t a simple pleasure as such, but it certainly is simply a pleasure.