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Mr Leo Maier, Head of Unit F.2 - Cyprus, Greece, Ireland and the UK and Dr Marek Beran, European Commission Desk Officer for Wales visited The Welsh Whisky Company on the 11th February to see how the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-13 has helped the company to expand.

The officials took the opportunity to tour the facilities as part of their recent visit to Wales to attend the Start of Term Conference and a meeting of the Programme Managing Committee.

Through a Processing and Marketing Grant (PMG) of £433,945 the whisky business was able to install a malt barley delivery system, a mash tun and a pair of copper pot stills.  The new still produces spirit for maturation in oak barrels to become whisky.

Established in 1998 in Penderyn by four local business partners, the Welsh Whisky Company was the first whisky distillery to open in Wales for over 100 years.  The company began distilling in the year 2000 following the acquisition of a bespoke single copper pot still designed by Dr David Faraday. This unique type of still allows the company to distil the spirit to a high alcohol volume of 92%, which produces a clean flavoured product. Traditional Scotch and Irish whiskies are typically distilled to around 76% alcohol through a two or three pot still system.

During the visit, Mr Leo Maier, said:

“We were pleased to see how the previous Wales 2007-2013 Rural Development Programme (RDP) is being implemented in Wales in terms of concrete projects. In this particular case, it could be seen that the PMG under the RDP not only helped the company to expand, but also created new jobs in Welsh rural areas, which was and, indeed, is one of the main objectives of the EU Rural Development Policy.”

The company increased its production capacity from 90,000 litres of pure alcohol to 300,000 litres per annum through this project. The company now produces a range of whiskies including the original Penderyn Madeira single malt, as well as having a range of spirits including vodka, gin and liqueurs.

Mr Stephen Davies, Managing Director, Welsh Whisky Company said:

“The RDP funding was key to allowing us to expand our distillery and to continue to grow our business and our brand.  It takes many years of maturation to make good single malt whisky, which means that cash is always constrained in the early years of any distillery business.  The RDP has assisted us in developing our business so that in time we can export our unique brand all over the world.”

For funding available under the current Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme see: Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.