Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 14:43 UK

Royal approval for Welsh whisky

Prince Charles at the distillery
Prince Charles was shown around the new visitor centre which charts the history of the company and whisky-making in Wales

The Prince of Wales has given the royal seal of approval to a high-strength whisky created in his honour.

Prince Charles sampled the 56.2% drink at the Penderyn distillery near the Brecon Beacons where he opened a new 850,000 visitor centre.

After he was told its strength by Dr Jim Swan, the master blender and consultant distiller, Charles remarked: "Now you tell me!"

He added: "It is remarkable... superb. You don't find many like that."

The prince, on the fourth and final day of his tour of Wales, was then presented with one of only three bottles of the special edition Madeira cask-produced whisky to be made.

Before entering the new visitor centre, he was presented with a bouquet of roses for his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, by two-year-old Halle Rose Roberts, who promptly asked for their return.

Halle's aunt, Jennifer Williams, said: "Halle said she needed to see Prince Charles today. She gave him flowers but then she asked for them back!"

Prince Charles samples the whisky
It is a wonderful example of what Wales can do with some of the best water and also achieve some of the largest percentage of alcohol!
Prince Charles

The 62-year-old from nearby Hirwaun added: "He was very nice and friendly. He asked whether the flowers were instead of the whisky. "When he gave them back he said he would rather the whisky."

Prince Charles was then shown around the new visitor centre which charts the history of the company and whisky-making in Wales before looking around the barrelling station where the drink is bottled and packed for distribution.

During the tour, the prince spotted a picture of himself taken at the distillery four years ago when the product first went on sale on St David's Day.

Upon noticing this, he said: "I seem to have spent my life in distilleries!"

'He is brilliant'

Since the launch in 2004, the whisky has gone from strength to strength by scooping many international awards and securing markets in countries as far afield as France, Spain, America and, more recently, Japan.

In a speech to staff and invited guests at the visitor centre bar, Prince Charles said: "It is a matter of great pride to me to come and open this Welsh distillery and I think it is a wonderful example of real determination and imagination to be able to launch this marvellous new Welsh product.

"I can imagine how much hard work, effort and sheer determination has gone into it."

He added: "It is a wonderful example of what Wales can do with some of the best water and also achieve some of the largest percentage of alcohol!"

Pauline Williams, an administrator from Penderyn village, said the visit meant a great deal to the company.

"He is brilliant," she said. "We've met him before when we launched the whisky in 2004. I'm a big fan."

Before the prince left for his next visit, he was given a fond farewell by several hundred flag-waving pupils from Ysgol Penderyn community school, which is situated opposite the distillery.


SEE ALSO
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